Beyond Pesticides National Forum Reflects Movement Behind Strong Organic Standards that Have Integrity

BEYONDPESTICIDES | April 15, 2019 | 24 views

Organic Strategies for Community Environmental Health: Eliminating pesticides where we live, work, learn, and play,co-convened with the Children’s Environmental Health Center of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, brought together scientists, land and park managers, urban farmers, policy makers, and advocates to chart a course that takes on the big public health and environmental issues associated with chemical-intensive practices. The conference began with a tour of the organically managed Battery Park Conservancy (in lower Manhattan) and the urban farm at Wagner Houses (East Harlem) of the New York City Housing Authority and coordinated by Green City Force. The Forum brought together speakers who addressed the problems associated with pesticides use, cutting edge science, and solutions embodied in organic practices. The speaker line-up brought together leaders in their fields. Joan Dye Gussow, EdD, a leader of the organic and local food movement, kicked off the conference with a talk grounded in a history of pesticide contamination and poisoning issues that helped to launch mainstream organic agriculture, now subject to attacks that are undermining public trust in the standards and the organic label. 

Spotlight

Celmatix

Named one of Crain's "Biotechs to Watch,"​ Celmatix is changing the face of women’s health through the development of digital tools and genetic insights focused on fertility potential. Our unique approach combines data science and genomics to bring personalized medicine to fertility.

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INDUSTRIAL IMPACT

Advancement in Genomics Accelerating its Penetration into Precision Health

Article | January 20, 2021

Genomics is an interdisciplinary field of biology emphasizing the structure, editing, evolution, function, and mapping of genomes. It is creating deeper inroads across the precision health domain with the increasing introduction of advanced technologies such as quantum simulation, next-generation sequencing (NGS), and precise genome manipulation. As precision health focuses on providing the proper intervention to the right patient at the right time, genomics increasingly finds applications in human and pathogen genome sequencing in clinical and research spaces. Rising Hereditary Diseases Burden Paving the Way for Genomics in Precision Health In the last few years, a significant surge in the prevalence of diseases and ailments such as diabetes, obesity, baldness, and others has been witnessed across the globe. A history of family members with chronic diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, hearing issues, and heart disease, can sometimes continue into the next generation. Hence, the study of genes is extensively being conducted for predicting health risks and early treatment of these diseases. It also finds use in CRISPR-based diagnostics and the preparation of precision medication for the individual. In addition, ongoing advancements in genomics are making it possible to identify different genetic traits that persuade people to more widespread diseases and health problems. The Emergence of Genomics Improves Disease Understanding Genomics refers to the study of the complete genetic makeup of a cell or organism. Increasing scientific research in the area substantially contributes to increasing knowledge about the human genome and assists in improving the ability to understand disease etiology, risk, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention. On account of these improvements, innovative genomic technologies and tools are being developed to enable better precision health not only for the individual but for various regional populations as well. The Way Forward With growing preference for personalized medicine and an increasing need for more accurate pathogen detection and diagnostics, genomics is gaining huge popularity across the precision health domain. Also, increasing research activities for developing novel high-precision therapeutics and rising importance of gene study in the prevention, diagnosis, and management of infectious and genetic diseases will further pave the way for genomics in the forthcoming years.

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Top 10 biotech IPOs in 2019

Article | April 17, 2020

The big question at the start of 2019 was whether the IPO window would stay open for biotech companies, particularly those seeking to pull off ever-larger IPOs at increasingly earlier stages of development. The short answer is yes—kind of. Here’s the long answer: In the words of Renaissance Capital, the IPO market had “a mostly good year.” The total number of deals fell to 159 from 192 the year before, but technology and healthcare companies were standout performers. The latter—which include biotech, medtech and diagnostics companies—led the pack, making up 43% of all IPOs in 2019. By Renaissance’s count, seven companies went public at valuations exceeding $1 billion, up from five the year before

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MEDICAL

Cell Out? Lysate-Based Expression an Option for Personalized Meds

Article | June 22, 2022

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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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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Spotlight

Celmatix

Named one of Crain's "Biotechs to Watch,"​ Celmatix is changing the face of women’s health through the development of digital tools and genetic insights focused on fertility potential. Our unique approach combines data science and genomics to bring personalized medicine to fertility.

Related News

Oxitec Signs New Multi-year Development Agreement to Apply 2nd Generation Technology to Control Soybean Looper

Prnewswire | April 16, 2019

a UK-based biotechnology company that pioneered the use of biologically-engineered insects to control disease-spreading mosquitoes and crop-destroying agricultural pests and a wholly-owned subsidiary of Intrexon (NASDAQ: XON), has announced the signing of a new multi-year development agreement with a collaborator to develop a self-limiting soybean looper (Chrysodeixis includens) to suppress this damaging agricultural pest that is found throughout the Americas. Soybean looper threatens a variety of crops, primarily soybeans as well as cotton, sweet potatoes, peanuts, lettuce, herbs, tomato, tobacco, and others. It has been historically difficult to control due to growing insecticide resistance. Additionally, individual adult females can lay up to 700 eggs each in their lifetime, allowing a small number of insects to exponentially grow in a very short time span. Oxitec's self-limiting soybean looper will leverage the advantages and benefits of Oxitec's 2nd generation technology as part of their commitment to advancing a new global standard for targeted, safe pest management using self-limiting insects. "Soybean looper threatens crops in the Americas, especially in Brazil and the US, where current control tools are under pressure. It is necessary to rapidly deploy new, safe and targeted technologies," said Grey Frandsen, Chief Executive Officer at Oxitec. "Our targeted biologically-based approach offers the opportunity to suppress this major agricultural pest, prevent widespread crop losses and, perhaps most importantly, complement the newest generations of other valuable pest control methods." As the need for agricultural productivity increases, so does the need for novel pest management solutions. Oxitec's approach has the potential to counter against insects developing resistance to both new and existing methods of insect control.

Read More

Scientists develop artificial chemical receptor to assist viral transduction for T cell engineering

Phys.org | April 15, 2019

Engineered T cell immunotherapy, such as chimeric antigen receptor T cell (CAR-T) and T cell receptor T cell (TCR-T) therapy, has emerged as a potent therapeutic strategy for treating tumors. However, the genetic manipulation of primary T cells remains inefficient, especially during the clinical manufacturing process. There's an urgent need to develop a reliable method for the preparation of engineered T cells. A research team led by Prof. Cai Lintao at the Shenzhen Institutes of Advanced Technology (SIAT) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and other collaborators developed a "safe, efficient and universal" technique based on bioorthogonal chemistry and glycol-metabolic labeling for viral-mediated engineered T cell manufacturing. Their findings were published in Advanced Functional Materials. In this strategy, the functional azide motifs were anchored on T cell surfaces via the intrinsic glycometabolism of exogenous azide-glucose, thus serving as an artificial ligand for viral binding. The complementary functional moiety dibenzocyclooctyne (DBCO)/-conjugated PEI1.8K (PEI-DBCO) was coated on the lentiviral surface, which strengthened the virus-T cell interaction through DBCO/azide bioorthogonal chemistry.

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Engineering Accuracy in CRISPR

Technologynetworks | April 16, 2019

Biomedical engineers at Duke University have developed a method for improving the accuracy of the CRISPR genome editing technology by an average of 50-fold. They believe it can be easily translated to any of the editing technology's continually expanding formats. The approach adds a short tail to the guide RNA which is used to identify a sequence of DNA for editing. This added tail folds back and binds onto itself, creating a "lock" that can only be undone by the targeted DNA sequence. The study appears online on April 15 in the journal Nature Biotechnology. "CRISPR is generally incredibly accurate, but there are examples that have shown off-target activity, so there's been broad interest across the field in increasing specificity," said Charles Gersbach, the Rooney Family Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Duke. "But the solutions proposed thus far cannot be easily translated between different CRISPR systems." CRISPR/Cas9 is a defense system that bacteria use to target and cleave the DNA of invading viruses. While the first version of CRISPR technology engineered to work in human cells originated from a bacteria called Streptococcus pyogenes, many more bacteria species carry other versions. Scientists in the field have spent years looking for new CRISPR systems with desirable properties and are constantly adding to the CRISPR arsenal. For example, some systems are smaller and better able to fit inside of a viral vector to deliver to human cells for gene therapy. But no matter their individual abilities, all have produced unwanted genetic edits at times.

Read More

Oxitec Signs New Multi-year Development Agreement to Apply 2nd Generation Technology to Control Soybean Looper

Prnewswire | April 16, 2019

a UK-based biotechnology company that pioneered the use of biologically-engineered insects to control disease-spreading mosquitoes and crop-destroying agricultural pests and a wholly-owned subsidiary of Intrexon (NASDAQ: XON), has announced the signing of a new multi-year development agreement with a collaborator to develop a self-limiting soybean looper (Chrysodeixis includens) to suppress this damaging agricultural pest that is found throughout the Americas. Soybean looper threatens a variety of crops, primarily soybeans as well as cotton, sweet potatoes, peanuts, lettuce, herbs, tomato, tobacco, and others. It has been historically difficult to control due to growing insecticide resistance. Additionally, individual adult females can lay up to 700 eggs each in their lifetime, allowing a small number of insects to exponentially grow in a very short time span. Oxitec's self-limiting soybean looper will leverage the advantages and benefits of Oxitec's 2nd generation technology as part of their commitment to advancing a new global standard for targeted, safe pest management using self-limiting insects. "Soybean looper threatens crops in the Americas, especially in Brazil and the US, where current control tools are under pressure. It is necessary to rapidly deploy new, safe and targeted technologies," said Grey Frandsen, Chief Executive Officer at Oxitec. "Our targeted biologically-based approach offers the opportunity to suppress this major agricultural pest, prevent widespread crop losses and, perhaps most importantly, complement the newest generations of other valuable pest control methods." As the need for agricultural productivity increases, so does the need for novel pest management solutions. Oxitec's approach has the potential to counter against insects developing resistance to both new and existing methods of insect control.

Read More

Scientists develop artificial chemical receptor to assist viral transduction for T cell engineering

Phys.org | April 15, 2019

Engineered T cell immunotherapy, such as chimeric antigen receptor T cell (CAR-T) and T cell receptor T cell (TCR-T) therapy, has emerged as a potent therapeutic strategy for treating tumors. However, the genetic manipulation of primary T cells remains inefficient, especially during the clinical manufacturing process. There's an urgent need to develop a reliable method for the preparation of engineered T cells. A research team led by Prof. Cai Lintao at the Shenzhen Institutes of Advanced Technology (SIAT) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and other collaborators developed a "safe, efficient and universal" technique based on bioorthogonal chemistry and glycol-metabolic labeling for viral-mediated engineered T cell manufacturing. Their findings were published in Advanced Functional Materials. In this strategy, the functional azide motifs were anchored on T cell surfaces via the intrinsic glycometabolism of exogenous azide-glucose, thus serving as an artificial ligand for viral binding. The complementary functional moiety dibenzocyclooctyne (DBCO)/-conjugated PEI1.8K (PEI-DBCO) was coated on the lentiviral surface, which strengthened the virus-T cell interaction through DBCO/azide bioorthogonal chemistry.

Read More

Engineering Accuracy in CRISPR

Technologynetworks | April 16, 2019

Biomedical engineers at Duke University have developed a method for improving the accuracy of the CRISPR genome editing technology by an average of 50-fold. They believe it can be easily translated to any of the editing technology's continually expanding formats. The approach adds a short tail to the guide RNA which is used to identify a sequence of DNA for editing. This added tail folds back and binds onto itself, creating a "lock" that can only be undone by the targeted DNA sequence. The study appears online on April 15 in the journal Nature Biotechnology. "CRISPR is generally incredibly accurate, but there are examples that have shown off-target activity, so there's been broad interest across the field in increasing specificity," said Charles Gersbach, the Rooney Family Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Duke. "But the solutions proposed thus far cannot be easily translated between different CRISPR systems." CRISPR/Cas9 is a defense system that bacteria use to target and cleave the DNA of invading viruses. While the first version of CRISPR technology engineered to work in human cells originated from a bacteria called Streptococcus pyogenes, many more bacteria species carry other versions. Scientists in the field have spent years looking for new CRISPR systems with desirable properties and are constantly adding to the CRISPR arsenal. For example, some systems are smaller and better able to fit inside of a viral vector to deliver to human cells for gene therapy. But no matter their individual abilities, all have produced unwanted genetic edits at times.

Read More

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