`Breakthrough'on arthritis

A 68-year-old American woman has become the first recipient of gene therapy to treat rheumatoid arthritis, scientists said yesterday.

Initial results of the trial at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center indicate that the insertion of a new, anti-arthritic gene into the patient was successful. It is not known whether the protein will continue to inhibit the disease in the long term, but it is being hailed as a breakthrough which paves the way for a new approach. The disease affects about 600,000 people in the UK. Liz Hunt