Can we find the keys to drug abuse, opioid addiction in our genes?

PAMELA ZUBER | November 19, 2019

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What if we could use genetics to determine if people will use drugs? While this idea may sound like science fiction, it may be close to becoming a reality. Medical professionals and government authorities are hoping that genetic testing will help them combat the opioid crisis. Doctors commonly prescribe opioids for pain relief. Opioids also include heroin and legal and illegal versions of fentanyl and carfentanil, two particularly dangerous drugs.

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Macrocyclics

Macrocyclics, Inc., a manufacturer of customized chelating agents, is dedicated to leading-edge development of new chelation chemistry platforms critical for advancement of diagnostic and therapeutic medicine.

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2 Small-Cap Biotech Stocks You Haven't Heard of, But Should Know About

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.

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Making Predictions by Digitizing Bioprocessing

Article | April 20, 2021

With advances in data analytics and machine learning, the move from descriptive and diagnostic analytics to predictive and prescriptive analytics and controls—allowing us to better forecast and understand what will happen and thus optimize process outcomes—is not only feasible but inevitable, according to Bonnie Shum, principal engineer, pharma technical innovation, technology & manufacturing sciences and technology at Genentech. “Well-trained artificial intelligence systems can help drive better decision making and how data is analyzed from drug discovery to process development and to manufacturing processes,” she says. Those advances, though, only really matter when they improve the lives of patients. That’s exactly what Shum expects. “The convergence of digital transformation and operational/processing changes will be critical for the facilities of the future and meeting the needs of our patients,” she continues. “Digital solutions may one day provide fully automated bioprocessing, eliminating manual intervention and enabling us to anticipate potential process deviations to prevent process failures, leading to real-time release and thus faster access for patients.” To turn Bioprocessing 4.0 into a production line for precision healthcare, real-time release and quickly manufacturing personalized medicines will be critical. Adding digitization and advanced analytics wherever possible will drive those improvements. In fact, many of these improvements, especially moving from descriptive to predictive bioprocessing, depend on more digitization.

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Learning How FoxA2 Helps Turn Stem Cells into Organs

Article | March 18, 2020

Scientists at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania discovered early on in each cell, FoxA2 simultaneously binds to both the chromosomal proteins and the DNA, opening the flood gates for gene activation. The discovery, “Gene network transitions in embryos depend upon interactions between a pioneer transcription factor and core histones,” published in Nature Genetics, helps untangle mysteries of how embryonic stem cells develop into organs, according to the researchers. “Gene network transitions in embryos and other fate-changing contexts involve combinations of transcription factors. A subset of fate-changing transcription factors act as pioneers; they scan and target nucleosomal DNA and initiate cooperative events that can open the local chromatin. However, a gap has remained in understanding how molecular interactions with the nucleosome contribute to the chromatin-opening phenomenon,” write the investigators.

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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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Macrocyclics

Macrocyclics, Inc., a manufacturer of customized chelating agents, is dedicated to leading-edge development of new chelation chemistry platforms critical for advancement of diagnostic and therapeutic medicine.

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