NIH to Launch Genome Editing Program

NIH https://www.nih.gov is going to launch the program called the Somatic Cell Genome Editing Program, funded by NIH’s Common Fund https://commonfund.nih.gov. The plan is to award researchers approximately $190 million over six years beginning in 2018 pending availability of funds.

Somatic cells are any of the non-reproductive cells of the body which is defined as cells that do not pass DNA down to the next generation. Scientists will be working to develop research tools that will be made available to reduce the time and cost required to develop new therapies.

Many common and rare diseases are caused by changes to the genetic code. Genome editing technologies present an opportunity to possibly treat and even cure these diseases. NIH’s Somatic Cell Genome Editing program is working to develop tools to perform safe genome editing in human patients.

However, there are challenges before such techniques can be used widely to treat patients with genetic disease. Genome editing tools need to function specifically on the disease gene to minimize unintended consequences. In addition, the editing tools need to be delivered selectively to the cells within the body affected by the disease while avoiding other cells such as reproductive cells.

Researchers will 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.

This funding opportunity announcement to launch the Genome Editing program is expected to be issued within a month. The NIH Common Fund manages programs within the NIH Office of the Director in partnership with Institutes, Centers, and Offices. For more information go to https://commonfund.nih.gov/editing.

On January 24, 2017, the Funding Opportunity Announcement (RFA-RM-18-018) titled “Somatic Cell Genome Editing Dissemination and Coordinating Center” was posted on www.grants.gov.

The plan is for the Somatic Cell Genome Editing Consortium to establish a Dissemination and Coordination Center (DCC) for the NIH Somatic Cell Genome Editing program. The closing date for applications is April 3, 2018 but as of this date, there is no estimated total program funding included.

The Dissemination and Coordination Center will develop an online platform to facilitate information sharing within the Consortium, assemble resources generated from all of the Consortium’s components into a genome editing toolkit, and disseminate the toolkit to researchers across the biomedical research community.

Go to http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/rfa-files/RFA-RM-18-018.html for more information.

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