B.C. man believed to be first Canadian to get intravenous gene therapy

CALGARY — A British Columbia man says he can eat his favourite foods and travel abroad without worry thanks to a clinical trial in which he was injected to treat a rare genetic disorder.

Josh McQuillin was 12 when he was diagnosed with urea cycle disorder, a dangerous condition that causes ammonia to build up in the body.

The 30-year-old has received experimental gene replacement therapy in the intensive care unit at Calgary’s Foothills Medical Centre.

The therapy involves using modified viruses to add new genes to a patient’s cells through an intravenous injection.

McQuillin is believed to be the first Canadian to get gene replacement this way, and only three other people in the world have undergone similar treatment.

He says it took about two weeks for the treatment to kick in.

He and his doctors aren’t sure yet how long it will last, so he must be monitored regularly.

It’s a joint effort between Alberta Health Services and the University of Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine.