Testing

Direct to consumer testing can potentially be quite dangerous without appropriate regulations and support to fully understand the implications of the information a consumer receives.

Chinese Rules on Global Use of Genetic Material Come into Effect

From 1 July, international scientists looking to use Chinese genetic material and data must have at least on Chinese collaborator working with them, according to new regulations. This follows a trend as individuals and organisations realise the value of their genetic data.

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.

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.

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.”

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.

Gold Nanoparticles Improves CRISPR Cell Delivery

Researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center have proposed gold nanoparticles as a new way to deliver CRISPR Cas-12a to cells. These nanoparticles can be filled with the necessary CRISPR components to edit genes cleanly, with between 10% and 20% of targeted cells successfully edited during lab studies. No toxic side effects were found from the process.

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.

Following the Recent Raid, Could uBiome Become Theranos 2.0?

uBiome, a Silicon Valley startup providing tests focussing on the microbiome and its importance to health, is under investigation after an FBI raid on its offices over how it was allegedly billing its customers. The company has received significant criticism recently for handling of the cofounders’ relationship and alleged corner-cutting during its scientific work.

CRISPR Study of Cancer Gene Fusion Regions Finds Potential New Drug Targets

In potentially the first large-scale systematic analysis of thousands of cancer gene fusions, UK scientists have announced that one of the fusions could be a novel drug target for a number of cancers. CRISR editing was used to determine the most important gene fusions for cancer cell survival, before anticancer compounds were tested on them to see which might be repurposed to specifically target the fusions.