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The news that scientists may have finally used gene therapy to cure the “bubble boy” immune disorder, SCID-X1, came as a surprise not because it happened so fast, but because it took so long that it had begun to seem impossible.

Scientists were talking about revolutionizing medicine with gene therapy back in the 1980s, and the first child with a different form of the disease, called SCID-ADA, was given gene therapy in 1992. By 2000, doctors were treating the first kids with SCID-X1. But there were problems. Some of them developed leukemia.

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