Over the years, Brian Madeux has had 26 surgeries to minimize symptoms of Hunter Syndrome, a serious genetic disorder with a general life expectancy of 15 years or less. But with no known cure available, the 44-year-old has been forced to live with the disease, which gradually damages various areas of the body, including thickening the walls of the heart.

In early November, Madeux was part of a revolutionary experiment in genetic therapy. For the first time, a gene will be inserted into the human body with the express purpose of altering a person’s DNA. The procedure is not guaranteed to work. In fact, the gene must be installed in a very specific part of the body to be effective. If misplaced, the change will be permanent and unfortunately, doctors likely won’t know for a few months whether the gene-editing procedure was successful.

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