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The National Institute of Chemistry is the winner of this year’s best business practice award as part of the Best of the Best project. The institute has earned the accolade with the CCEdit project for developing the use of the improved CRISPR gene editing system.

The CCEdit project, launched in February 2020 and registered by biochemist Roman Jerala, is continuation of the development and demonstration of the breakthrough technology CRISPR for health and other biotechnological purposes. In addition to improving gene editing technology, the team led by Tomaž Bizjak of the institute’s department for synthetic biology and immunology is establishing an international business and development relationship with foreign organisations. By getting connected with global biotechnology centres and pharmaceutical companies, the project improves its chances of being placed in the market, while contributing to the development of the Slovenian bio-tech start-up sector.

The aim of the project is to bridge the lack of key development resources and know-how using resources from foreign biotechnology centres in order to make progress in the commercialisation of biotechnological and medical innovations. This would encourage decision-makers, researchers and other stakeholders to participate more actively in the development of domestic industry.

As the winner was declared at the AmCham Business Breakfast, Bizjak noted that the CRISPR technology, which had also been used for correcting a mutation in the CTNNB1 gene, was the future of advanced therapy. The technology was used to help two-year-old boy Urban, he said, adding that more than EUR 100,000 that his mother Špela Miroševič had managed to raise so far for his treatment was a signal that Slovenians wanted to make progress in healthcare.

“Healthcare of the future must be accessible, innovative, advanced, provided to every individual. With this project, we have indicated that there is potential for this, and you have proved with your votes that you want it,” Bizjak said. In this vein, he expressed the hope that his vision of a centre for gene and cell therapy, where the most advanced treatment methods would be available, would once be realised.

The award winner was selected with a combination of an online vote, vote by an expert jury and vote at today’s event, dubbed Culture of Dialogue. “You are our inspiration, and international competitiveness is what drives us forward. Your ideas will help us in terms of sustainability and the ambition and success of our nation,” Amcham Slovenia president Blaž Brodnjak told the award ceremony.

Source: STA

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