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Novartis and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation collaborate on therapy for sickle cell disease

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FILE PHOTO: The logo of Swiss drugmaker Novartis is pictured at the French company's headquarters in Rueil-Malmaison

ZURICH (Reuters) - Novartis has entered into a grant agreement with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to fund the development of accessible single use gene therapies to cure sickle cell disease (SCD), the pharmaceuticals company said on Wednesday.

The project aims to address disparity in access to treatments and prioritize populations and regions that bear the greatest burden of the hereditary blood disease, Novartis said.

Around 300,000 people are born with the condition annually. Sub-Saharan Africa is particularly badly affected by SCD, which reduces the ability of red blood cells to transport oxygen and can be fatal.

(Reporting by John Revill; Editing by Tom Hogue)