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Rare Genetic Disease Partnership

A new public-private partnership plans to speed up the development of gene therapies for rare genetic diseases, Stat News reports.

It adds that the US National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration are partnering with 10 pharmaceutical companies and five nonprofit groups to form the Bespoke Gene Therapy Consortium. About 30 million Americans have a rare genetic disease, the NIH notes.

"They've waited a long time for something to be focused this way to address the incredibly wrenching stories we see all around us of children and adults with rare diseases where we can do a diagnostic test to tell them what they have but beyond that haven't had much to offer," Francis Collins, the NIH director, tells Stat News.

The NIH, FDA, and the private partners are to contribute $76 million over five years to fund the consortium, the NIH says. It adds that the main focus of the BGTC will be to better understand the biology of the adeno-associated viral vector that is often used in gene therapies.

The Scan

Looking for Omicron

NPR reports that SARS-CoV-2 testing in the US has gotten better but also that some experts say more needs to be done to better track the Omicron variant.

Holmes Alleges Abuse

The Associated Press reports that Theranos' Elizabeth Holmes has testified at her wire fraud trial that her business and romantic partner abused her.

Bit More Diverse, But More to Do

While Black and Hispanic patients are more likely to participate in cancer clinical trials than previously, they are still underrepresented, according to US News & World Report.

PNAS Papers on Yeast Gene Silencing, Zika Virus Inhibition, Immunoglobulin Hypermutation

In PNAS this week: gene silencing in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, possible neuroprotective role for SHFL in a mouse model of Zika virus infection, and more.