CFF’s ‘Golden Ticket’ Competition Will Support Early Gene Research

Marisa Wexler, MS avatar

by Marisa Wexler, MS |

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As part of its Path to a Cure initiative, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is readying its first “Golden Ticket” Competition, which aims to support early research toward new treatments for cystic fibrosis (CF).

The competition will open on May 2, and applications are being accepted through May 30. It is open to scientists working on new technologies in gene editing, gene delivery, gene insertion, and gene therapy that have potential applications for treating CF.

“As part of our relentless pursuit of a cure, we are dedicated to investing in early stage science. We know that to make progress toward our bold mission to cure CF, we need to attract bold, like-minded researchers,” Martin Mense, PhD, senior vice president of drug discovery and director of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Therapeutics Lab, said in a press release.

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The competition is being conducted in collaboration with Bakar Labs, an incubator focused on life science research that is part of the Bakar BioEnginuity Hub at the University of California, Berkeley.

Up to three winners will be selected to receive one year of free laboratory space and support at Bakar Labs to help advance their research. The winners will also get access to extensive research resources through the CF Foundation, including scientific experts, support with clinical trial designs, lab tools, an extensive patient registry and database, and a Therapeutics Development Network that includes more than 90 clinical trial sites in the U.S.

“This Golden Ticket Competition provides the incredible resources of both the Foundation and Bakar Labs to help great minds bring ambitious ideas closer to reality,” Mense said.

Notably, this competition marks the first funding effort by the CF Foundation targeting scientists who are in the very earliest stages of translating their research into potential treatments.

“We refuse to wait for scientific advances to come to us,” Mense said. “Instead, we are constantly exploring new approaches to drive research, to bring tomorrow’s breakthrough technologies into cystic fibrosis research today.”

The competition is open to companies with or without university affiliations; teams that are not yet incorporated are also eligible to apply. Full competition details, as well as the application itself, are available online.

Clinical outcomes for many people with CF have improved markedly in recent years. The last decade or so, in particular, has seen the advent of CFTR modulators, therapies that can help to increase the function of the abnormal CFTR protein in people with specific disease-causing mutations.

While these medicines have been transformative, not everyone can benefit from them. The CF Foundation’s Path to a Cure, launched in 2019, is a $500 million initiative aiming for therapies that address the root cause of CF and can be used by all patients.