Healthcare

Genomics will change what patients expect from their provider, as well as change how physicians treat them. Before this happens, education on both sides is needed. This month we look at some of the big talking points.

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.

Gene Editing Creates Primate Model for Autism

A joint US-China study has engineered macaque monkeys to express a mutation linked to autism and other human neurodevelopmental disorders. The monkey showed certain behavioural traits similar to humans with the same condition.

Russian Scientist Plans to CRISPR-Edit More Babies

Russian biologist Denis Rebrikov has announced his intentions to produce further gene-edited babies, ignoring the scientific consensus that this should not be done until an ethical framework is constructed to regulate the science involved. Rebrikov’s plans could occur before the end of the year if he receives approval in time.

New Approaches to the Old Hunt for NASH Therapies

Non-Alcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH) is the most severe form of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). The global prevalence of NAFLD is as high as one billion and is the most common cause of chronic liver disease, affecting between 80 and 100 million in the U.S., among whom nearly 25% progress to NASH. NASH is characterized by […]

US Government Restricts Research on Foetal Tissue

The US government has ended medical research funding for scientists using foetal tissue, and cancelled a multi million-dollar contract for a laboratory at the University of California at San Francisco, which required the material to test new HIV therapies. According to a White House spokesperson, the decision was taken by President Trump himself.

Stem Cells Edited In Vivo For the First Time

Researchers have genetically modified stem cells inside the bodies of mice for the first time, in a study that could lead eventually to new potential for stem cell therapies. The study also shows potential for studying genetically-edited stem cells within the body, rather than in the lab.

CRISPR Twins’ Lives Could Be Shortened by Two Years

He Jiankui, the Chinese scientist who created the first gene-edited twin children last year, could have unknowingly shortened their lives by more than 1.9 years. A study into the DNA and death records of 400,000 volunteers in the UK Biobank found the genetic mutations to gene CCR5 were “of quite strong effect.”

Fungus Genetically Modified to Wipe Out Malaria-Carrying Mosquitoes

University of Maryland scientists have genetically modified a fungus to produce a toxin fatal to mosquitoes, in order to reduce the malaria death toll they currently cause. An out-of-lab trial destroyed a mosquito population almost entirely within 45 days, leading some to criticise the work as “too dangerous” for the real world.

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.

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.