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Winfried Rothermel / AP

An FDA panel has recommended that a revolutionary gene therapy treatment — CTL109 from Novartis and the University of Pennsylvania — be approved to fight a rare form of childhood leukemia, which would make it the first gene therapy treatment to reach the market, per the NYT.

Why it matters: It's a potentially game-changing step for cancer treatment. The traditional use of chemotherapy, essentially strong poison sent directly into the bloodstream, might become a thing of the past should gene therapy be proven effective.

  • How it works: Millions of a patient's T-cells are removed and reengineered using a disabled form of HIV to become equipped to attack and destroy B-cells, which are a normal part of the immune system but become malignant when a patient has leukemia. The new T-cells are reintroduced to the patient's bloodstream where they become cancer "serial killers."
  • The limitations: The time needed to reengineer the cells has been knocked down to 22 days from 4 months, but the treatment can only be performed at 30 to 35 approved medical centers. Plus, the initial side effects can be extremely harsh — with severe reactions — and longer-term side effects might still pop up.

Go deeper

3 hours ago - World

Hong Kong pro-democracy media tycoon Jimmy Lai detained on fraud charge

An activist holds a placard highlighting China's Tiananmen Square massacre as pro-democracy media tycoon Jimmy Lai arrives at West Kowloon Magistrates' Court in Hong Kong in November. Photo: Isaac Wong/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai is being detained until an April court hearing after the pro-democracy supporter was charged Thursday with fraud, per his Apple Daily news outlet.

Why it matters: The 72-year-old's arrest and denial of bail is another blow for the pro-democracy movement in the former British colony amid concerns about a fresh crackdown on activists.

7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Inhofe loudly sets Trump straight on defense bill

Sen. Jim Inhofe speaks with reporters in the Capitol last month. Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

Senator Jim Inhofe told President Trump today he'll likely fail to get two big wishes in pending defense spending legislation, bellowing into his cellphone: "This is the only chance to get our bill passed," a source who overheard part of their conversation tells Axios.

Why it matters: Republicans are ready to test whether Trump's threats of vetoing the bill, which has passed every year for more than half a century, are empty.

Conspiracy theories blow back on Trump's White House

Sidney Powell. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

President Trump has rarely met a conspiracy theory he doesn't like, but he and other Republicans now worry the wild tales told by lawyers Sidney Powell and Lin Wood may cost them in Georgia's Senate special elections.

Why it matters: The two are telling Georgians not to vote for Republicans David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler because of a bizarre, baseless and potentially self-defeating theory: It's not worth voting because the Chinese Communist Party has rigged the voting machines.