Caring Cross lends support to Global Gene Therapy Initiative and the goal of increasing access to curative therapies for Sickle Cell Disease
GAITHERSBURG, Md., Feb. 8, 2022 — Caring Cross, a 501(c)(3) non-profit dedicated to accelerating the development of advanced medicines and enabling access to cures for all patients, everywhere, announced that its Co-founder and Executive Director, Boro Dropulić, Ph.D., M.B.A., presented at the “Advanced Therapy for Sickle Cell Disease in Africa” meeting at Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (MUHAS) in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The meeting brings together MUHAS physicians and scientists working on the Sickle Cell Disease project at the Aga Khan Hospital Dar es Salaam (AKHD) with global academics and non-profits to collaborate and develop strategies aimed at increasing accessibility and lowering costs of curative therapies for Sickle Cell Disease (SCD).
“Caring Cross is honored to participate in this important meeting and support the mission to accelerate the introduction of gene therapies for Sickle Cell Disease to Africa.” Said Dr. Dropulić. “Access to advanced curative therapies, such as those for Sickle Cell Disease, should not be restricted by geographic or socio-economic limitations as is currently the case in many areas of the world. Caring Cross is dedicated to removing such barriers to care, and our involvement in the Advanced Therapy for Sickle Cell Disease in Africa meeting allows us to join forces with like-minded physicians, scientists and community leaders who seek to create a better future for those with Sickle Cell Disease through the establishment of robust pharmaceutical and therapy infrastructures.”
Dr. Dropulić gave a presentation entitled, “Genetic Interventions for Sickle Cell Disease,” during which he provided insights into enhancing access to advanced cell therapy technologies in Africa, including place-of-care manufacturing to lower their cost. Dr. Dropulić’s presentation was part of a “Gene Therapy” panel, which also featured a presentation from Dr. Jennifer Adair from the Global Gene Therapy Initiative (GGTI) and an Associate Professor of Cell and Gene Therapy at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.
Dr. Adair commented: “The Global Gene Therapy Initiative is pleased to participate in this important meeting and support the advancement of curative interventions for Sickle Cell Disease. We are excited to work with our African partners to determine what is needed to implement gene therapy clinical trials in Sub-Saharan Africa.”
The GGTI was formed in 2020 to tackle the barriers to low-and middle-income countries inclusion in gene therapy development and includes diverse stakeholders from all sectors. GGTI has set a goal of introducing gene therapy Phase 1 clinical trials in Uganda and India by 2024.
Dr. Cissy Kityo, Executive Director of the Joint Clinical Research Centre Uganda (JCRC) in Uganda, was also present at the meeting and spoke on the Stem Cell Transplant and Exchange Transfusion Panel. “This is an important meeting that brings together many stakeholders in sub-Sahara Africa to focus on interventions and cures for Sickle Cell Disease. We are proud to educate the wider SCD community on our vision to produce gene-modified cell therapy products, and we are eager to implement these therapies for the patients that need them in Uganda,” stated Dr. Kityo.
Caring Cross was recently awarded a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to support the GGTI program for the training of personnel from the Joint Clinical Research Center (JCRC) at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center on the methods for manufacturing gene-modified cell products.
The meeting organizer, Dr. Julie Makani from MUHAS stated, “We are incredibly pleased to hold this meeting focused on bringing together academics, scientists and business leaders to identify and promote strategic and therapeutic advances designed to improve the lives of patients with Sickle Cell Disease. Ultimately, we hope such innovation can lead to a curative gene therapy for this devastating disease. We are grateful for our sponsorship by the World Health Organization and others.”
About Caring Cross
Caring Cross is a 501(c)(3) non-profit dedicated to accelerating the development of advanced medicines and ensuring access to cures for all patients, everywhere. To enable its mission, Caring Cross is mobilizing a growing community of healthcare professionals, scientists, engineers, community advocates, donors, investors and business leaders to support the development of technologies and candidate medicines and technologies. Currently, Caring Cross is advancing several initiatives that aim to improve the accessibility, affordability and applicability of CAR-T technology and stem cell gene therapy. These opportunities include developing and implementing affordable solutions for the manufacture of CAR-T cells, advancing a decentralized, place-of-care cell manufacturing model, and developing its first therapeutic candidate, an anti-HIV duoCAR-T cell therapy designed to suppress HIV replication and eliminate HIV-expressing cells in people with HIV. A stem cell gene therapy for Sickle Cell Disease and Beta-Thalassemia is also in development. For more information on Caring Cross visit https://caringcross.org/.
About Global Gene Therapy Initiative (GGTI)
GGTI is an association of scientists, physicians and community leaders that aim to implement affordable and accessible curative genetic therapies for the treatment of HIV, Sickle Cell Disease and Beta-Thalassemia in Africa and India. Drs Makani, Adair, Kityo and Dropulic are all members of the GGTI. For more information visit https://caringcross.org/global-gene-therapy-initiative/.