Bill gates wants to use genetic therapy to treat people in Africa

“Father,” Microsoft’s bill gates have long moved away from control of his company and devoted himself entirely to philanthropy. In particular, his personal Foundation, called the Gates Foundation is already engaged in assistance to the African population. And through his new project, Mr. gates, together with the National Institute of health (NIH) to develop an ambitious plan for the introduction of genetic therapy for HIV and sickle-cell anaemia on the African continent.

Who would have thought that the giant computer industry to do charity work?

How does genetic therapy?

The two largest American investor in biomedical research plan to invest at least 100 million US dollars over the next four years to enable African countries advanced methods of treatment. The cooperation of the NIH and the bill and Melinda gates Foundation should mark the start of clinical trials of genetic therapies for HIV and sickle cell anemia. The ambitious goal is to develop simpler and more affordable ways to edit the genes or the introduction of genetically-modifying drugs that can cure the above mentioned diseases.

Yeah, it’s pretty easy, — said NIH Director Francis Collins during a press conference devoted to the beginning of cooperation. But unless we pool our best scientific minds and resources right now, we will be able to achieve success and breakthrough in the treatment of dangerous diseases.

Previous a number of independent studies in animals and some clinical trials on volunteers-people showed that two diseases, which in Africa is almost epidemic, HIV and sickle cell anemia, can be treated with gene therapy and new tools for genome editing such as CRISPR.

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But in most cases the use of components for genome editing involves the removal of stem cells from the body, addition, or modification genes, and then re-introduction of previously deleted cells back into the body. It is, in fact, transplantation of stem cells (though in fact it’s the body’s own cells), and this is not small money. Moreover, it is usually quite risky, because the doctors destroy the existing stem cells of the patient with chemotherapy so that the corrected cells were able to “reposition themselves”. The procedure remains unaffordable for most people in Africa South of the Sahara, where few areas have the medical infrastructure to carry out such medical procedures.

For example, sickle cell anemia, a disease that is the presence of a defect of hemoglobin, involved in oxygen transport of red blood cells, causing him unable to perform its function, there are currently 2 types of treatment. Scientists or add a new gene to transfer to the existing hemoglobin red blood cells and their precursors, or include a gene in stem cells, which is responsible for the production of receptors for the migration of hemoglobin. How do you feel about genetic editing? Tell us about it in our chat in Telegram.

Bill gates with his wife Melinda

Instead of trying to modify human stem cells and transplant them back, the scientists will seek to “guide” the editor of the genome or other tools to edit the genes directly in human organism. Thus, the treatment would be similar to the normal procedure of blood transfusion. While this approach is nothing fantastic. Such technology is already there. For example, there are studies in which the body’s cells at the genetic level modifierade using specially bred for these purposes, viruses.

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