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Episode 4 : Curing CancerEpisode 4 : Curing Cancer

Curing cancer Bud Romaine was diagnosed with incurable cancer in 1994. He was given three years to live. In 1996, a newspaper article caught his eye.
The article described the work of a local doctor, Brian Druker, who was testing a new kind of cancer drug. In 1997, months away from death, Bud Romine became the first patient ever to take Gleevec. Within 17 days, Bud had returned to perfect health. Indeed, the drug seems to cure everyone with Bud's disease -- Chronic Myeloid Leukemia -- by fixing the DNA that causes it. Today, the prospect of more drugs that work at the level of DNA is a real one. In 1990, Gleevec was the only one in development. There are currently hundreds of drugs in development that might work in the same revolutionary way on different kinds of cancer.

The final work for the DNA scientists is identifying all the damaged genes that cause cancer. But with the Human Genome Project finished, a single lab will be able to do this in just five years. Fifty years after Crick and Watson discovered the double helix, the secret of life may finally be living up to its name.

Directed by Carlo Massarella, produced by Thomas Alkin, and edited by Julian Rodd.

Learn More about gene therapy in the Special Report.
Lab workers Mammogram
Photos: Mammograms (bottom right). The breast cancer gene BRCA1 is thought to be responsible for two to four percent of all breast cancers and five to ten percent of ovarian cancers. Many diseases are caused by abnormalities in more than one gene.

Blood samples
Challenge yourself to consider the ethical implications of genetic science.
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Patient with an IV
Scientists race to find the gene that causes breast cancer.
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Special Report

Genetic Samples
Gene therapy is an exciting new technique, but one that comes with comp-lications.
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