A charity warns today that it has just days left to raise £6m for an effective treatment for cystic fibrosis (CF) or a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity" will be missed.
A shortfall in funding, caused by the economic slump, means that clinical trials to repair faulty genes in sufferers of the chronic lung disease could be axed. Early trials have shown that the treatment prevents lung damage caused by the disease, which affects 9,000 people in the UK.
The Cystic Fibrosis Trust has so far raised £1m this year. Gifts and guaranteed pledges are needed by the end of October for trial drugs to be ordered.
Professor Eric Alton, of the UK CF Gene Therapy Consortium, said: "A decade of work has put us in this position. No one else in the world is capable of doing this, and it is crucial for CF patients that we should push forward."