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Unlocking Precision Gene Therapy

Project description

Advanced gene-editing tools for safer gene therapy

Gene therapy offers a promising approach to treat incurable diseases by silencing, activating or recoding specific genes. In addition to conventional gene transfer strategies, newly emerged gene-editing technologies provide the potential for precise manipulation of the genome. The EU-funded UPGRADE project aims to address certain gene therapy limitations associated with insertional mutagenesis, off-target effects, or limited efficiency. Researchers will develop disruptive new technologies for precision gene and epigenome editing, as well as for gene insertion. Following stringent validation, the project will lead to advanced medicinal products and versatile tools that could be used for a number of diseases.


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, including: risk of insertional mutagenesis by gene transfer vectors, limited efficiency and durability of some gene correction strategies, off target effects of editing tools, poor tissue targeting and immune response to editing components and delivery vehicles. UPGRADE will offer radical new solutions to overcome these hurdles. We will exploit and further develop disruptive new technologies for precision gene and epigenome editing and for site-specific transgene insertion, and stringently characterize their specificity and cellular responses. We will combine these improved technologies with advanced viral and non-viral vectors enabling cell/tissue targeting and immune evasion, to generate prototypes of advanced medicinal products (AMP). The safety and efficacy profile of each AMP will be stringently validated in tissues (hematopoiesis, heart and skeletal muscle, liver, retina) and disease models (muscle wasting, storage and blood disorders, hypercholesterolemia) paradigmatic for unmet medical need and potential long-term cure, if the limitations of current gene therapy strategies are overcome. These AMPs represent versatile products portable to the treatment of several other diseases because of related pathogenesis or correction strategies, thus providing the basis for tackling diseases affecting large patient groups.

Call for proposal


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Net EU contribution
€ 3 412 968,75
00185 Roma

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Centro (IT) Lazio Roma
Activity type
Research Organisations
Total cost
€ 4 952 968,75

Participants (10)