South Africa has a high disease burden resulting from communicable and non-communicable diseases. Current therapeutic interventions rarely result in a cure and the associated lifelong treatment places a considerable strain on an overburdened health sector. Gene and cell therapies present novel alternatives to disease management, offering the promise of a single treatment and a lifelong cure. Although challenges remain, investment in the field has started to bear fruit, with a number of gene and cell therapeutics reaching the market in the past decade. To take full advantage of these developments, it is important that a proactive approach to nurturing appropriate human and material resources is adopted in the country.