Novartis and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have signed an agreement to embark on further studies to find a cure for Sickle Cell Disease (SCD).

A statement issued by the Sickle Cell Foundation and copied to the Ghanaian Times said, as part of the agreement, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation would provide funding support for the discovery and development of a single-administration, in vivo gene therapy to cure sickle cell disease (SCD).

The Group Head of Corporate Affairs and Global Health for Novartis, Lutz Hegemann in his remarks said “Novartis is proud to lead this effort to find an accessible genetic therapy for sickle cell disease, with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.”

“In keeping with our purpose, we firmly believe we can use science and innovation to reimagine the way SCD is treated for patients around the world,” he stressed.

A hematologist and President of the Novartis Institutes for Bio-Medical Research, JayBradner, said”Existing gene therapy approaches to sickle cell disease are difficult to deliver at scale and there are obstacles to reaching the vast majority of those affected by this debilitating disease.”

“This is a challenge that calls for collective action, and we are thrilled to have the support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in addressing this global unmet medical need,” he said.

President of Global Health at the Gates Foundation, Trevor Mundel, explainedthat “Gene therapies might help end the threat of diseases like sickle cell, but only if we can make them far more affordable and practical for low-resource settings.”