An Overview of Highly Hazardous Pesticides

| February 7, 2018

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The crop protection industry is working to reduce the risk HHPs pose to people and the environment

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Wisconsin biotech companies could play key roles in long-term economic recovery from COVID-19 pandemic

Article | April 19, 2020

Whether it’s called a modern “Manhattan Project” or a medical moon shot, the concept of long-term economic recovery rests on how confident people are they won’t risk serious illness by venturing forth in public again. Wisconsin stands to be a significant part of such an undertaking, whatever it’s called. The shorter-term debate is well under way over the gradual lifting of COVID-19 emergency rules, such as the now-extended “safer-at-home” order in Wisconsin. At least a dozen states, including regional coalitions on the East and West coasts, are exploring next steps as they seek to balance responses to the virus with calls for reopening the economy, at least, in part. Wisconsin’s ability to shape longer-term responses will come from private and public resources, which range from companies engaged in production of diagnostics.

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Defense biotech research looks to eliminate bacteria causing traveler’s diarrhea, reduce jet lag duration

Article | April 9, 2020

World traveler‘s will rejoice at the idea of a seemingly magical device that would guarantee they never suffer from the all-too-familiar stomach issues that come from traveling internationally while reducing jet lag at the same time. But it’s not just privileged globetrotters that would benefit from a device that eliminates the bacteria associated with the so-called Montezuma’s Revenge. In 2016, more than 230,000 children around the world died from some of the same types of bacteria as those that cause traveler’s diarrhea, and the bacteria mainly come from unsafe “drinking water, poor sanitation and malnutrition,” according to Oxford University’s Our World In Data portal. On Monday, DARPA announced it was researching an “implantable or ingestible bioelectronic carrier” that would eliminate the five major bacteria associated with traveler’s diarrhea.

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Closing bacterial genomes from the human gut microbiome using long-read sequencing

Article | February 12, 2020

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.

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Ruminating on Bioprocessing 4.0

Article | February 18, 2020

The Bioprocessing 4.0 concept seeks to apply automation and technology to the digital transformation of biologics manufacturing. As the paradigm moves forward, it faces barriers to its adoption, according to Eric Langer, president of BioPlan Associates. “Perhaps the greatest challenges involve unsecured links and adapting the applications to areas where automation is critically needed today,” says Langer. “Unresolved security issues could seriously affect a company’s data in a regulated environment, so they will need to have iron-clad anti-hacking protection in place. Unfortunately, cyber security is not yet a top focus for the industry.”

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