|1969–1970||Paul Berg and Peter Lobban independently conceive an approach to create rDNAs in vitro and use them to manipulate genes across species.|
|1971||Douglas Berg and colleagues isolate the first plasmid bacterial cloning vector, λdvgal 120.|
|1971||Robert Pollack raises first concerns about potential biohazards of cloning.|
|1971–1972||David Jackson and colleagues, Peter Lobban, and A. D. Kaiser develop the method for joining DNAs in vitro.|
|1972||Jackson and colleagues create the first chimeric DNA in vitro.|
|1972||Janet Mertz and Ronald Davis discover a new approach to create SV40-λdvgal 120 chimeric DNAs in vitro.|
|1972–1973||Stanley Cohen and colleagues isolate a new cloning vector, pSC101, and create bacterial intra- and interspecies rDNAs.|
|1973||John Morrow and colleagues clone and propagate ribosomal DNA genes from a eukaryote in E. coli.|
|1972||Scientists publish details of first intentional creation of rDNA molecules (Berg and Mertz, 2010). Some leading researchers delay further investigation pending better understanding of potential biohazards, including cancer-causing potential of laboratory-altered viruses (Swazey et al., 1978).|
|1972–1973||Several conferences feature discussions of rDNA technology and possible safety risks and containment options related to rDNA procedures (Fredrickson, 2001).|
|1973||Participants at the first Asilomar conference consider laboratory safety and containment issues and discuss evidence on the risk of cancer from genetically modified viruses.|
|1973||Concerned researchers draft a letter requesting that the NAS establish a committee to examine the risks and benefits of rDNA research and propose guidelines for such research.|
|1974||July: The chair of the seven-member NAS committee presents the committee’s recommendations, including for the deferral of certain risky types of rDNA research; the establishment by NIH of an advisory committee to assess the risks of the research, develop procedures to limit such risks, and develop guidelines for research; and the convening of a conference to further discuss ways to deal with hazards of rDNA research (Berg et al., 1974).|
|1974||October: The NIH creates the Recombinant DNA Molecule Program Advisory Committee (later called the Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee, or the RAC).|
|1975||Participants at a second Asilomar conference discuss whether research moratorium should continue. The summary statement proposes that research proceed with safeguards tailored to the risks of specific investigations and that education and training in containment methods be developed (Berg et al., 1975).|
|1976||Following a public meeting in February, in June NIH issues guidelines for rDNA research and defines responsibilities of investigators, research institutions, and government (Recombinant DNA research guidelines, 1976).|
|1980||The first gene transfer experiments with humans are conducted by a U.S. investigator in Italy and Israel. The investigator is later censured for misleading regulators and barred from NIH funding (Rainsbury, 2000).|
|1982||The President’s Commission for the Study of Ethical Problems in Medicine and Biomedical Research and Behavioral Research releases a report, Splicing Life, which proposed changes in the oversight of rDNA research (President’s Commission, 1982).|
|1984||The RAC establishes a working group on human gene therapy to review and respond to the report of the President’s Commission and establish procedures for reviewing and approving gene transfer research.|
|1984||FDA determines that it will regulate gene therapy products (Rainsbury, 2000).|
|1985||A working group on human gene therapy presents its first version of Points to Consider in its report, “Design and Submission of Human Somatic-Cell Gene Therapy Protocols” (Points to consider, 1985).|
|1988||The RAC approves its first clinical research protocol, one for a gene marker study, amidst controversy over the investigators’ reluctance to provide requested information on safety (Rainsbury, 2000).|
|1990||Researchers undertake the first approved gene transfer study on a child with SCID disorder (Coutts, 2011).|
|1991||FDA issues a guidance document, Points to Consider in Human Somatic Cell Therapy and Gene Therapy, updated again in 1998 (FDA, 1991, 1998).|
|1992||NIH director approves a “compassionate use” exemption to allow gene transfer procedures to be used in individual patients without regular protocol review.|
|1993||Responding to industry concerns and questions, FDA publishes a description of its regulatory authority and approach to regulating gene therapy products.|
|1995||NIH and FDA outline an agreement for FDA to assume review of gene therapy research protocols, with the RAC and FDA jointly determining which protocols warrant public review by the RAC (Advisory Committee to the Director, 2000).|
|1996||NIH Director proposes ending the RAC (Notice of intent, 1996).|
|1997||NIH guidelines confirm the shift of the RAC to an advisory role; FDA assumes sole authority to approve gene transfer protocols as well as gene therapy products (Advisory Committee to the Director, 2000; U.S. Congress, 2000).|
|1997||The RAC minutes start to include summary tables of adverse event reports received.|
|1999||Jesse Gelsinger dies while participating in a gene transfer trial; subsequent investigations identify several shortcomings in research oversight.|
|2000||FDA announces a new gene therapy clinical trials monitoring plan to strengthen protections for trial participants.|
|2000||NIH amends guidelines to place the RAC advisory review of protocols before IBC and IRB review (Recombinant DNA research: Action under the guidelines, 2000).|
|2002||FDA elevates the administrative unit that evaluates cellular, tissue, and gene therapy products from division to office.|
|2003||FDA imposes a temporary moratorium on gene transfer trials using retroviral vectors in blood stem cells, and eases the restrictions later the same year.|
|2004||NIH launches GeMCRIS, an interactive Web-based database allowing public access to information about gene transfer trials (NIH, 2004).|
|2013||NIH proposes to revise the rDNA guidelines to remove the requirement for IBC review of certain low-risk gene transfer clinical trials that follow a dose safety trial previously approved by an IBC (Recombinant DNA research: Proposed actions under the NIH Guidelines for research involving recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid [NIH Guidelines], 2013).|
SOURCE: Adapted from Berg and Mertz, 2010.
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Berg, P., D. Baltimore, H. W. Boyer, S. N. Cohen, R. W. Davis, D. S. Hogness, D. Nathans, R. Roblin, J. D. Watson, and S. Weissman. 1974. Potential biohazards of recombinant DNA mlecules. Science 185(4148):303.
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———. 1998. Guidance for human somatic cell therapy and gene therapy. Rockville, MD: FDA. http://www.fda.gov/downloads/BiologicsBloodVaccines/GuidanceComplianceRegulatoryInformation/Guidances/CellularandGeneTherapy/ucm081670.pdf (accessed September 1, 2013).
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