Genome therapy research will be given a boost with the launch of “Somatic Cell Genome Editing” programme by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), an agency attached to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The programme is aimed at developing tools for safe and effective genome editing in humans. Genome editing technologies such as CRISPRCas9 are revolutionising biomedical research, said NIH Director Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD. The focus of the Somatic Cell Genome Editing programme is to dramatically accelerate the translation of these technologies to the clinic for treatment of as many genetic diseases as possible. Starting this year, NIH will award an estimated $190 million to researchers over six years, pending the availability of funds. The programme is funded by NIH’s Common Fund.The researchers would be expected to collaborate to improve the delivery mechanisms for targeting gene editing tools in patients, develop new and improved genome editors, and develop assays for testing the safety and efficacy of the genome editing tools in animal and human cells. Their work also entails creation of a genome editing toolkit containing the resulting knowledge, methods, and tools to be shared with the scientific community, the NIH said.

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