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Dec 17, 2019 06:23 AM EST

Genetic Engineering Jobs for Gene Editing and Cell Therapy will Increase until 2026

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As more gene editing therapies transfer from research laboratories to hospitals around the world, it is expected that the market for the professional genetic engineers who make it possible will grow.

The UK government expects that by 2030 alone in Britain, there could be more than 18,000 new jobs created by gene and cell therapy. While in the US, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there will be a 7% increase in jobs for biomedical engineering and a 13% increase in medical scientists, with some 17,500 jobs in total.

"Gene therapy is rapidly becoming an accepted and growing part of the medical research and development industry," Michele Calos, President of the American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy and a professor of genetics at Stanford University, said.

The global genome editing market is expected to double in size over the five-year period from 2017 to hit a value of $6.28 billion, according to some estimates. The UK government announced earlier this year that it is investing £60 million or US$76 million in a new manufacturing center for cell and gene therapy to help accelerate the development of new treatments.

In the US, the National Human Genome Research Institute expects that in parallel with this development there will be a significant increase in demand for jobs. Around 2,700 clinical trials are already underway or approved around the world using gene therapies aimed at combating diseases as diverse as leukemia, muscle dystrophy, and sickle cell anemia.

Most of the small gene therapy companies behind these trials have collaborations or funding from far larger pharmaceutical firms including Bayer, GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, Merck, and Novartis. A quick search on recruiting websites shows that most of these pharmaceutical companies are actively seeking to hire scientists for their own gene therapy.

The gene therapy industry requires a number of graduates with expertise in scientific fields such as genetics, medicine, molecular biology, virology, bioengineering and chemical engineering, as well as graduates from business courses.

Although salaries may depend on the qualifications required for each job due to the high level of skills required, they are likely to be higher than average. For example, clinical geneticists may expect to earn between $39,870 and $134,770 per year, while a bioinformatician who helps interpret genetic data earns between $35,620 and $101,030 per year, says the National Human Genome Research Institute.

While not all disorders can be turned off simply by removing these defective genes, CRISPR-Cas9 has opened a new way to treat patients and explore how other conditions can be treated.

China is the world leader in gene editing at the moment. It reported earlier this year that clinical trials involving 300 patients who will use CRISPR-Cas9 to treat a variety of conditions have been authorized. The procedure has also already been used by researchers in China to treat 86 patients with cancer and HIV.

Genetic engineers were ranked by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics as one of its top 20 fastest growing work sectors. This estimates the number of jobs available to specialists who will be able to interpret genetic information, provide medical staff with support and advice, and direct patients through the decisions they will need to take. The jobs available in this field will increase by 29% in 2026.

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