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It is now just over a decade since the first nucleic acid-based drugs began initial tests. Several such drugs will likely be in routine medical use in less than one decade more. The application of gene technology could also change utterly the profile of biopharmaceutical drugs currently on the market. Virtually all such products are proteins, currently administered to patients for short or prolonged periods, as appropriate. Gene therapy offers the possibility of equipping the patient’s own body with the ability to synthesize these drugs itself, and over whatever time scale is appropriate. Taken to its logical conclusion, gene therapy thus offers the potential to render obsolete most of the biopharmaceutical products currently on the market. Of all the biopharmaceuticals discussed throughout this text, nucleic acid-based drugs may well turn out to have the most profound influence on the future practice of molecular medicine.
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