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American Society of Hematology Holds Foundational Workshop on Genome Editing

Meeting to foster collaboration on groundbreaking genome editing technologies for therapeutic use

(WASHINGTON, July 14, 2016) — The American Society of Hematology (ASH), the world’s largest professional society concerned with the causes and treatment of blood disorders, has brought together clinical and laboratory-based scientists, funders, and regulators to share cutting-edge research and tackle key scientific and clinical hurdles in genome editing at the ASH Workshop on Genome Editing, July 14-15 in Washington, DC.

Genetic mutations are the cause of many inherited blood disorders. Recognizing the potential of genome editing to correct these genetic flaws, ASH has made developing this emerging technology a research priority in recent years.

Specific genome editing techniques include zinc finger nucleases (ZFNs), transcription activator-like effector-based nucleases (TALENs), and clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR). Each of these platforms can correct genetic abnormalities by cutting apart strands of DNA to remove and/or insert specific alterations.

“Blood disorders have served as an important frontier for developing and applying these technologies, from sickle cell disease and beta thalassemia, to hemophilia. Because hematologists have been among the pioneers in genome editing, ASH is a natural leader to convene a meeting of this magnitude,” said J. Keith Joung, MD, PhD, of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, one of the program’s co-chairs. A foremost expert on genome editing technologies, Dr. Joung will host multiple discussions throughout the workshop on emerging advancements with this technology.

This meeting will cover a broad swath of the genome editing landscape, including contemporary laboratory applications, bourgeoning therapeutic potential, and regulatory considerations for such therapies.

“The ASH Workshop on Genome Editing is the perfect arena for multidisciplinary experts to discuss this groundbreaking technology and ensure its use to improve the lives of our patients,” said meeting co-chair Mitchell Weiss, MD, PhD, of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis.

This meeting will encourage networking between academicians, industry scientists, government officials, and others in the field in order to foster partnerships that can strengthen the discovery-approval-application pipeline for current and emerging genome editing processes.

“ASH has shown bold leadership in creating a forum for our industry to collaborate with the chief scientific minds behind these inspiring innovations,” said Philip Gregory, DPhil, of Cambridge biotech startup bluebird bio, Inc, the meeting’s third co-chair. “I’m incredibly excited to be able to look back in five years and see this as the moment when this community took the first step toward positioning genome editing to become the standard of care for treating—and even curing—so many of the genetic ailments that have long-challenged humanity.”

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The American Society of Hematology (ASH) (www.hematology.org) is the world’s largest professional society of hematologists dedicated to furthering the understanding, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disorders affecting the blood. For more than 50 years, the Society has led the development of hematology as a discipline by promoting research, patient care, education, training, and advocacy in hematology. The official journal of ASH is Blood (www.bloodjournal.org), the most cited peer-reviewed publication in the field, which is available weekly in print and online.