Kulsoom Nawaz, 68, dies in London

Prime Minister Imran Khan has directed the Pakistani High Commission in London to assist the bereaved family and provide all necessary facilities to the heirs of the deceased. (AFP/File)
Updated 11 September 2018
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Kulsoom Nawaz, 68, dies in London

  • Ex-PM Nawaz Sharif’s wife was undergoing cancer treatment in the UK
  • PM Khan directs officials to provide all assistance to deceased’s family in London

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s former first lady, Kulsoom Nawaz, died at the Harley Street Clinic in London, on Tuesday, succumbing to a long battle with cancer.
Three times ex-premier Nawaz Sharif’s wife, 68-year-old Kulsoom was on life support for several weeks before she finally slipped into a coma in June this year following a cardiac arrest. 
She was diagnosed with lymphoma in August 2017.
Shahbaz Sharif, the former chief minister of Punjab and Nawaz’s younger brother, confirmed the news in a tweet.
Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed deep grief at the turn of events, directing the Pakistan High Commission in London to assist the bereaved family with all help required.

Chief of Army Staff, Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, also expressed his heartfelt condolences to the Sharif family. In comments, tweeted by Military Spokesman Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor, Bajwa said: “May Allah bless the departed soul with eternal peace at Heaven — Amen”.
Nawaz and his daughter Maryam Nawaz are currently lodged in Rawalpindi’s Adiala jail for money laundering and were informed by family members about Kulsoom’s death.
On July 10, the father-daughter duo was sentenced to 10 and seven years in prison, respectively, and arrested a week later after their return to Pakistan from the UK.
Their counsel has submitted a request for them to be allowed to attend the final rituals in Lahore, on humanitarian grounds. Nawaz’s party leadership said it hopes that they will be granted bail.
During her illness, Kulsoom’s two sons, Hassan and Hussain Nawaz, took care of her in London. Since both are wanted by authorities, it is unlikely they will return to Pakistan to attend the funeral. 
Kulsoom married Nawaz in 1970 and went on to retain the title of the first lady following her husband’s election to the office of prime minister in 1990, 1997, and during his last term from 2013 to 2017.
She was elected as a member of National Assembly from Lahore in September 2017. She contested the election from the seat vacated by her husband after the Supreme Court disqualified him from holding public office in the Panama Papers’s scandal in July 2017.
She is survived by her husband and their four children.


Doctors use HIV in gene therapy to fix ‘bubble boy’ disease

In this April 2019 photo provided by the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, 2-year old Gael Jesus Pino Alva is held by his mother, Giannina Alva, at the hospital in Memphis. (AP)
Updated 20 April 2019
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Doctors use HIV in gene therapy to fix ‘bubble boy’ disease

  • It affects 1 in 200,000 newborns, almost exclusively males. Without treatment, it often kills in the first year or two of life

WASHINGTON: They were born without a working germ-fighting system, every infection a threat to their lives. Now eight babies with “bubble boy disease” have had it fixed by a gene therapy made from one of the immune system’s worst enemies — HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
A study out Wednesday details how scientists turned this enemy virus into a savior, altering it so it couldn’t cause disease and then using it to deliver a gene the boys lacked.
“This therapy has cured the patients,” although it will take more time to see if it’s a permanent fix, said Dr. Ewelina Mamcarz, one of the study leaders at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis.
Omarion Jordan, who turns 1 later this month, had the therapy in December to treat severe combined immunodeficiency syndrome, or SCID.
“For a long time we didn’t know what was wrong with him. He just kept getting these infections,” said his mother, Kristin Simpson. Learning that he had SCID “was just heartbreaking ... I didn’t know what was going to happen to him.”
Omarion now has a normal immune system. “He’s like a normal, healthy baby,” Simpson said. “I think it’s amazing.”
Study results were published by the New England Journal of Medicine. The treatment was pioneered by a St. Jude doctor who recently died, Brian Sorrentino.
SCID is caused by a genetic flaw that keeps the bone marrow from making effective versions of blood cells that comprise the immune system. It affects 1 in 200,000 newborns, almost exclusively males. Without treatment, it often kills in the first year or two of life.
“A simple infection like the common cold could be fatal,” Mamcarz said.
The nickname “bubble boy disease” comes from a famous case in the 1970s — a Texas boy who lived for 12 years in a protective plastic bubble to isolate him from germs. A bone marrow transplant from a genetically matched sibling can cure SCID, but most people lack a suitable donor. Transplants also are medically risky — the Texas boy died after one.
Doctors think gene therapy could be a solution. It involves removing some of a patient’s blood cells, using the modified HIV to insert the missing gene, and returning the cells through an IV. Before getting their cells back, patients are given a drug to destroy some of their marrow so the modified cells have more room to grow.
When doctors first tried it 20 years ago, the treatment had unintended effects on other genes, and some patients later developed leukemia. The new therapy has safeguards to lower that risk.
A small study of older children suggested it was safe. The new study tried it in infants, and doctors are reporting on the first eight who were treated at St. Jude and at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital San Francisco.
Within a few months, normal levels of healthy immune system cells developed in seven boys. The eighth needed a second dose of gene therapy but now is well, too. Six to 24 months after treatment, all eight are making all the cell types needed to fight infections, and some have successfully received vaccines to further boost their immunity to disease.
No serious or lasting side effects occurred.
Omarion is the 10th boy treated in the study, which is ongoing. It’s sponsored by the American Lebanese Syrian Associated Charities, the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine, the Assisi Foundation of Memphis and the federal government.
“So far it really looks good,” but patients will have to be studied to see if the results last, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which helped develop the treatment. “To me, this looks promising.”
Rights to it have been licensed by St. Jude to Mustang Bio. Doctors say they have no estimate on what it might cost if it does become an approved treatment. They say they also hope to try it for more common problems such as sickle cell disease.