Washington - The US government and the US government intend to jointly invest around 200 million dollars (180 million euros) in the development of gene therapies for the treatment of sickle cell anemia and HIV over the next four years. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health () announced yesterday that the main priority is to ensure that potential treatments are available and affordable worldwide.
Gene therapy is yet another new area of medicine that is targeting this to replace faulty genes in the body that are responsible for disease. It offers promising opportunities in the fight against sickle cell anemia and HIV. However, the treatments are complicated and expensive, which makes them hardly an option in poorer countries. The NIH and Gates' Foundation are now aiming for clinical trials in the United States and in countries in the sub-Saharan region within the next seven to ten years, it said.
According to the NIH, around 95 percent of the 38 million people infected with HIV worldwide live in developing countries, including 67 percent in the sub-Saharan region. Around half of the cases there remain untreated. According to the NIH, around 1.1 million people in the USA are affected by the disease.
Around 100,000 people in the USA have sickle cell anemia. According to NIH forecasts, 15 million babies will be born with the disease in the next 30 years, 75 percent of them in the sub-Saharan region.
In sickle cell anemia, hereditary blood disease, the blood is more viscous than in healthy organism - the finest blood vessels can clog and thus damage organs. The disease mainly affects people of African origin.