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NIH Earmarks $7M to Fund Large-Animal Testing Centers for Genome Editing Program

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) — The National Institutes of Health announced today that it has earmarked $7 million over the next five years to establish two large animal testing centers that will evaluate in vivo genome-editing technologies developed through the agency's Somatic Cell Genome Editing program.

The program is a $190 million initiative launched earlier this year to help improve delivery mechanisms for targeting gene editing tools in patients, develop new genome editors, and develop assays for testing the editing tools' efficacy and safety in human and animal cells. The program also aims to assemble a genome editing toolkit containing the resulting knowledge, methods, and tools that will be shared with the scientific community.

As part of this effort, the NIH intends to fund the establishment of two large animal testing centers — one for testing genome-editing technologies and editors in pigs, and another for performing such testing in non-human primates including rhesus monkeys and marmosets. The pig testing center is expected to have the capacity to test at least 250 animals annually beginning in 2021, while the monkey center is expected to test at least 100 animals each year by that time.

The centers are also expected to develop assays and standard operating procedures to evaluate on- and off-target effects for genome editing in target cells and tissues; establish methods and protocols to evaluate the safety of the genome-editing technologies; and provide testing results and related data to other program members, among other things.

The NIH funding will be provided over two periods. A total of $2.5 million will be provided to the centers in fiscal 2019 and fiscal 2020, while $4.5 million will be provided in fiscal 2021 through fiscal 2023.

Additional details about the funding opportunity can be found here.