Clinical genomics

Efficiently translating genomic research into the clinic is one of the most important steps in the development of the field. The clinic is where we will see things come to fruition.

BIO 2019 – An Interview with Irene Rombel, Senior Director and Head of Strategic Analysis at Janssen

With the recent conclusion of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization’s BIO 2019 event, we thought we’d talk to some of the fascinating individuals who were present to showcase their innovative ideas or technologies. Irene Rombel, Senior Director, Head of Strategic Analysis – External Innovation, Discovery, Product Development & Supply, at Janssen Research & Development, spoke at BIO 2019 about gene therapy and the next generation of biotherapeutics. We spoke to her about her thoughts on the gene therapy field, and the future for companies in that space.

George Church’s Startup Testing Pig Organs in Primates

eGenesis has announced that it is now testing pig organs on primates to see if they safe for human use. If successful, this practice could solve the current shortage of human organs for transplantation. The company has declared that the pig organs are the most highly engineered ever created by surgeons.

New “Jumping Gene” CRISPR Directly Inserts DNA

A new experimental version of CRISPR could help fix genes rather than disable them using transposons, or “jumping genes”. This could help move the current “find and delete” purpose of CRISPR to the more useful “find and replace” one.

Autism-Causing Variations Found in “Junk” DNA

Princeton University researchers have used AI techniques to uncover junk DNA mutations which can lead to autism. The findings are the first to link functionally link mutations in regulatory DNA with a disease like autism, and possibly prove that the changes affect how genes are expressed in the brain.

Genetic Mutations Linked to Lupus Found

Researchers from the Australian National University have discovered two rare genetic mutations linked to Lupus, the first time a cause of the disease has been determined. Before this study, it was believed the two mutations, BLK and BANK1, had little role in human autoimmunity and related diseases.

New Clinical Trial Greatly Improves Genetic Rickets

A drug developed in part by Indiana University School of Medicine to alleviate the symptoms of X-linked hypophosphatemia (XLH), a disease which softens bones, has proven significantly more effective than conventional therapies.

First Lifeform Created with Fully Redesigned DNA

Cambridge University scientists have created the first living organism with fully synthetic DNA radically altered from its original state. The strain of E coli was given a smaller set of genetic instructions than its counterparts, proving life can continue with such a restricted code.

Unlocking the Promise of DNA Sequencers: An Interview with Ben Langmead

Dr Ben Langmead is a computational biologist and assistant professor in the Computer Science Department at Johns Hopkins University, most famous for his creation of the Bowtie and Bowtie 2 sequence alignment algorithms, used to improve sequencing alignment quality. FLG spoke to Dr Langmead about his lab, his recent work using the Stampede2 supercomputer cluster to optimise sequencing data analysis software, and the future for DNA sequencers as a whole.

Gene Therapy Could Heal Cells After Heart Attack

Gene therapy can make heart cells regenerate after a heart attack, King’s College London researchers have found. The study, published in Nature, stated that a small piece of genetic material called microRNA-199 delivered into a pig’s heart after myocardial infarction resulted in almost total cardiac recovery a month later.

Protein and Receptor Combination Slows Metastasis in Mouse Models

Swiss scientists have found a potential new way to block metastasis, with promising results demonstrated in mice. The researchers have found a “barrier”, built by the Activin B protein and a receptor called ALK7, the combo of which prevents tumours from spreading through the body.

New Cancer Pathway Opens Up New Treatment Possibilities

When the MDM2 gene acts with a specific protein found in cancer cells’ mitochondria, it can lead to cancer cell death. The study which discovered this fact, published by Mount Sinai researchers in Molecular Cell journal, could open new treatment opportunities for cancer patients in the future.