The project led by Dr. Anna Veiga, Group Leader of the Regenerative Medicine Program of the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL) and director of Biology R&D of the Dexeus Mujer Reproduction Medicine Service, focused on the study of embryonic development through the CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing technique, will receive funding from Merck Research Grants. A committee of experts has chosen Dr. Veiga's project from among the 18 presented in the Fertility category.
The project aims to develop the CRISPR/Cas9 genetic edition technique in human embryos to study their development. This technique is a very powerful tool that allows the study of the implication of individualized and specific genes. With the help of the financial contribution provided by Merck, the contribution of certain genes in the development of human embryos can be studied. Cellular and molecular biologists from IDIBELL participate in this project, who will carry out the genomic editing and the molecular and immunocytochemical analyzes of the edited embryos; the project also has the participation of clinical embryologists with extensive experience in embryonic culture and preimplantation genetic screening techniques from Dexeus Mujer, they will assess the efficiency and safety of genomic editing by analyzing the characteristics and in vitro developmental capacity of human embryos. Recently, this project obtained authorization from the Health Department of the Generalitat of Catalonia.
Since 1991, the Merck Health Foundation annually grants unpublished projects carried out by Spanish research teams. These grants divided into different biomedical areas and, every area received a single project. This year, the grants have been divided into the areas of Multiple Sclerosis, Individualized Precision Medicine, Minority Diseases, Allergology, Immuno-Oncology, Endocrinology and Fertility. Members of scientific societies and personalities of relevance in the doctrine constitute the jury of the Fertility area that has chosen Dr. Veiga's project. The 3-years project will be funded by 30,000 euros.
Members of the jury:
- Dr. Luis Martínez Navarro. Head of the Assisted Reproduction Unit of the Virgen de las Nieves Hospital in Granada. President of the Spanish Fertility Society.
- Dr. Carlos Simón. Scientific Director of Igenómix.
- Dr. Buenaventura Coroleu. Head of the Dexeus Mujer Reproduction Medicine Service in Barcelona.
- Dr. Antonio Urries López. Head of the Assisted Human Reproduction Unit of the QuirónSalud Zaragoza Hospital.President of ASEBIR.
- Dr. José Luis Carbonero Martínez. Head of the Gynecology and Obstetrics Service at the QuirónSalud Donostia Hospital. On behalf of the Spanish Society of Gynecology and Obstetrics.
- Dra. Laura de la Fuente. Head of the Assisted Reproduction Unit of the Hospital 12 de Octubre in Madrid.
- Dr. Joaquím Llacer. Co-Medical Director of the Bernabeu de Alicante Institut.