By REBECCA MUSHOTA
THE National Institutes of Health (NIH) of America plans to invest at least $100 million over the next four years toward developing a gene-based cure for sickle cell disease and HIV which will be affordable to low income countries such as Zambia.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation would also invest $100 million toward this goal. This is according to statement issued by NIH. The gene based cures are intended for global use including in low-resource settings.
The initiative follows an announcement made earlier this year by United States president Donald Trump during the State of the Union address to end the HIV epidemic in the United States in the next 10
Dramatic advances in genetics over the last decade have made effective gene-based treatments a reality, including new treatments for blindness and certain types of leukemia.
“Yet these breakthroughs are largely inaccessible to most of the world by virtue of the complexity and cost of treatment requirements, which currently limit their administration to hospitals in wealthy
countries,” the statement said.
To make these treatments effective and available for sickle cell and HIV, which disproportionately affected populations living in Africa or of African descent, new investment was needed to focus research on the development of curative therapies that could be delivered safely, effectively and affordably in low-resource settings.
The collaboration between the NIH and the Gates Foundation sets out a bold goal of advancing safe, effective and durable gene-based cures to clinical trials in the United States and relevant countries in
sub-Saharan Africa within the next seven to 10 years.
The collaboration will align aggressive, high-reward research efforts to accelerate progress on shared gene-based strategies to cure suckle cell and HIV.
President for the Global health program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Trevor Mundel said , while these treatments were exciting, people in low- and middle-income countries did not have access to these
He said by working with the NIH and scientists across Africa, the development would ensure the approaches would improve the lives of those most in need.