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Article | April 17, 2020
With everything that's going on with the COVID-19 pandemic, many healthcare companies have grabbed plenty of spotlight during these challenging times. At the same time, a number of otherwise promising businesses have slipped under the radar. That's especially true for small-cap biotech stocks that aren't actively involved in developing tests, vaccines or treatments for COVID-19. Vaccine developers, protective equipment producers, and healthcare service providers are all attracting plenty of attention during this pandemic, but there are just as many promising biotech stocks that aren't involved in these areas. Here are two such companies that you might have missed, but they deserve a spot on your watch list.
In our lab, we focus on the impact of the gut microbiome on human health and disease. To evaluate this relationship, it’s important to understand the particular functions that different bacteria have. As bacteria are able to exchange, duplicate, and rearrange their genes in ways that directly affect their phenotypes, complete bacterial genomes assembled directly from human samples are essential to understand the strain variation and potential functions of the bacteria we host. Advances in the microbiome space have allowed for the de novo assembly of microbial genomes directly from metagenomes via short-read sequencing, assembly of reads into contigs, and binning of contigs into putative genome drafts. This is advantageous because it allows us to discover microbes without culturing them, directly from human samples and without reference databases. In the past year, there have been a number of tour de force efforts to broadly characterize the human gut microbiota through the creation of such metagenome-assembled genomes (MAGs)[1–4]. These works have produced hundreds of thousands of microbial genomes that vastly increase our understanding of the human gut. However, challenges in the assembly of short reads has limited our ability to correctly assemble repeated genomic elements and place them into genomic context. Thus, existing MAGs are often fragmented and do not include mobile genetic elements, 16S rRNA sequences, and other elements that are repeated or have high identity within and across bacterial genomes.
In the downstream portion of any bioprocess, one must pick through the dross before one can seize the gold the biotherapeutic that the bioprocess was always meant to generate. Unfortunately, the dross is both voluminous and various. And the biotherapeutic gold, unlike real gold, is corruptible. That is, it can suffer structural damage and activity loss. When discarding the dross and collecting the gold, bioprocessors must be efficient and gentle. They must, to the extent possible, eliminate contaminants and organic debris while ensuring that biotherapeutics avoid aggregation-inducing stresses and retain their integrity during purification and recovery. Anything less compromises purity and reduces yield.
To purify and recover biotherapeutics efficiently and gently, bioprocessors must avail themselves of the most appropriate tools and techniques. Here, we talk with several experts about which tools and techniques can help bioprocessors overcome persistent challenges. Some of these experts also touch on new approaches that can help bioprocessors address emerging challenges.
Cell-free expression (CFE) is the practice of making a protein without using a living cell. In contrast with cell line-based methods, production is achieved using a fluid containing biological components extracted from a cell, i.e., a lysate. CFE offers potential advantages for biopharma according to Philip Probert, PhD, a senior scientist at the Centre for Process Innovation in the U.K.
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