ICMR: Task Force on Gene Therapy
The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) will set up a task force on gene therapy in order to encourage research in the field. The purpose of setting up the task force is to explore gene editing based therapeutic approaches that will treat illness.
The task force will work on genetic diseases affecting brain, eye disorders, muscles, heart, retina, cornea and blood disorders. The blood disorders include Thalassemia, Haemophilia and Sickle cell disease. The task force will also work on diseases such as diabetes, cancer and lung diseases. The work of the force will be completely abided to the guidelines on gene therapy released by ICMR.
ICMR believes that many inherited disorders are not treated by existing drugs and therapies. While the western world has stridden far ahead in the field in the last 30 years, India is lagging in the field. Around 70 million Indians suffer from rare diseases whose cure can be achieved through gene therapy.
Even with advancements, the countries leading in the field are still in the stage of clinical trials and have not yet proved the success of the therapies. To mention a few, ICMR states that drugs like Luxuturna used to treat Retinitis Pigmentosa (illness that affects retinal cells of human eye) and Yescarta used to in cell therapy to treat cancer are still in clinical trial phase.
Therefore, it is important to build a strong task force that will work exclusively on gene therapy.