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Press release: Launch of the UPGRADE project

Fondazione Telethon announces the launch of the UPGRADE project, funded by the European Union with 15 million euros, aiming at developing more precise and effective gene therapies approaches.

Coordinated by Luigi Naldini, director of the San Raffaele-Telethon Institute for Gene Therapy (SR-TIGET) in Milan, this 5-year project will involve several of the most important scientific groups of the field.

In addition to SR-TIGET (Milan, Italy) and the Telethon Institute of Genetics and Medicine-TIGEM (Naples, Italy), the two institutes founded by Fondazione Telethon for the first time taking part to the same project, UPGRADE will involve: Pompeu Fabra University (Barcelona, Spain), Technische Universitaet (Dresden, Germany), University of Trento (Italy), Ludwig-Maximilians Universitaet (Munich, Germany), Vrije Universiteit (Bruxelles, Belgium), University of Nantes (France), Massachusetts General Hospital (Boston, Usa).

Gene therapy has recently shown remarkable potential to offer definitive treatments for otherwise incurable diseases. Currently, seven gene therapy products have reached the market and many more are entering clinical testing for selected indications.

Moreover, emerging technologies for targeted gene editing are complementing the scope of conventional gene transfer, opening the way to precise gene correction and making possible to silence, activate or recode any sequence of interest in the genome. However, in order to realize the full potential of these strategies and broaden application of gene therapy, the field has to solve several major hurdles.

UPGRADE will offer radical new solutions to overcome these hurdles, thus providing the basis for applying these therapeutic approaches to other diseases.

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