WASHINGTON, Nov 8 ( – Ronald Crystal, a prominent New York gene therapist, and Schering-Plough Corp. have requested that information on the death and illness of people subjected to controversial gene altering experiments be kept secret. The Washington Post reports that Crystal’s requests for secrecy submitted to the National Institutes of Health came just two weeks after a biotechnology company founded by Crystal filed for an initial public offering of stock. 

While Crystal claims his patients’ deaths – now totaling four – were due to their medical conditions rather than his gene experiments, his requests for secrecy and those coming from other biotechnology companies have raised suspicions, especially in view of the fact, that it is (to quote the Post) “a field of medical research that has prided itself on openness.” Open reporting of the death and injury of patients involved in gene therapy has been accepted as a condition for allowing the radical alteration of human makeup through DNA-altering gene therapy. The Post describes gene therapy as “an experimental field in which genes are given to patients to correct inherited disorders and treat cancer.” 

With files from the Washington Post.