How organic industry opposition to CRISPR gene editing encourages pesticide use

STEVEN CERIER | September 24, 2019 | 2 views

The increasing popularity of organic food is driven largely by consumers hoping to avoid pesticide exposure. When the Soil Association, a UK-based organic advocacy group, asked consumers why they didn’t buy conventional foods, 95 percent of them said they did so because of pesticides. Despite the fact that organic growers do indeed utilize pesticides — some of which can be very harmful to human health and wildlife — the organic food movement has done its utmost to promote the myth of chemical-free “natural” agriculture, contrasting it with the idea that conventional farmers rely on a bevy of “toxic” substances to grow their crops.

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MichBio

MichBio is a non-profit association representing more than 600 bioscience companies, universities and academic institutions dedicated to advancing Michigan's bioscience industry. MichBio is the state's leading advocate for the bio-industry. MichBio fosters an environment that educates the public and policy makers, influences public policy and advances the economic interests of its member companies and the industry as a whole.

OTHER ARTICLES

Advancement in Genomics Accelerating its Penetration into Precision Health

Article | September 13, 2019

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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DIAGNOSTICS

Top 10 biotech IPOs in 2019

Article | April 20, 2021

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

Article | April 13, 2020

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

MichBio

MichBio is a non-profit association representing more than 600 bioscience companies, universities and academic institutions dedicated to advancing Michigan's bioscience industry. MichBio is the state's leading advocate for the bio-industry. MichBio fosters an environment that educates the public and policy makers, influences public policy and advances the economic interests of its member companies and the industry as a whole.

Related News

CRISPR Therapeutics, Vertex Report First Data from Trials of Gene-Editing Treatment CTX001

GEN | November 19, 2019

CRISPR Therapeutics and Vertex Pharmaceuticals today reported preliminary, mostly-positive safety and efficacy data from the first two patients enrolled in two Phase I/II trials assessing their CRISPR/Cas9 gene-edited therapy CTX001 for a pair of blood disorders—the first clinical trial of a gene-editing candidate sponsored by U.S. companies. “We are very encouraged by these preliminary data, the first such data to be reported for patients with beta thalassemia and sickle cell disease treated with our CRISPR/Cas9 edited autologous hematopoietic stem cell candidate CTX001,” CRISPR Therapeutics CEO Samarth Kulkarni, PhD, said in a statement. “These data support our belief in the potential of our therapies to have meaningful benefit for patients following a one-time intervention. We continue to enroll these studies as we drive forward to develop CRISPR/Cas9 therapies as a new class of transformative medicines to treat serious diseases.” Added Vertex Chairman, President and CEO Jeffrey Leiden, MD, PhD: “The data we announced today are remarkable and demonstrate that CTX001 has the potential to be a curative CRISPR/Cas9-based gene-editing therapy.”

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CRISPR Gene Editing Ability Improved by Specific Modifications of tracrRNA

GEN | November 11, 2019

Scientists at the City of Hope believe they may have found a way to sharpen the fastest, cheapest, and most accurate gene editing technique, CRISPR-Cas9, so that it can more successfully cut out undesirable genetic information. This improved cutting ability could one day fast-track potential therapies for HIV, sickle cell disease, and, potentially, other immune conditions. “Our CRISPR-Cas9 design may be the difference between trying to cut a ribeye steak with a butter knife versus slicing it with a steak knife,” said Tristan Scott, PhD, lead author of the study and a staff research scientist at City of Hope’s Center for Gene Therapy. “Other scientists have tried to improve CRISPR cutting through chemical modifications, but that’s an expensive process and is like diamond-coating a blade. Instead, we have designed a better pair of scissors you can buy at any convenience store.” The study, “Improved Cas9 activity by specific modifications of the tracrRNA,” published in Scientific Reports is the first time scientists have systematically gone through the guide RNA sequence to change it and improve CRISPR-Cas9 technology, Scott said. The Kevin Morris Lab at City of Hope has filed a patent application claiming this improved CRISPR-Cas9 design, which could result in a doubling of activity but the exact amount was dependent on the target site, Scott said.

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A Breath of Fresh CRISPR

GEN | November 04, 2019

Genome editing materials can’t just breeze into cells. Or can they? Even cells so well defended as lung and airway cells may admit wisps of genome editing proteins such as CRISPR-associated nucleases. All that’s needed is an inspired delivery method. One possibility is the aerosolization of amphiphilic peptides. Amphiphilic peptides combine hydrophilic and lipophilic properties and facilitate the translocation of proteins across membranes. These peptides are being evaluated for various applications, including genome editing. In fact, scientists from the University of Iowa, in collaboration with scientists from Feldan Therapeutics, recently used engineered amphiphilic peptides to deliver genome editing nucleases and ribonucleoproteins to cultured human airway epithelial cells and mouse lungs.

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CRISPR Therapeutics, Vertex Report First Data from Trials of Gene-Editing Treatment CTX001

GEN | November 19, 2019

CRISPR Therapeutics and Vertex Pharmaceuticals today reported preliminary, mostly-positive safety and efficacy data from the first two patients enrolled in two Phase I/II trials assessing their CRISPR/Cas9 gene-edited therapy CTX001 for a pair of blood disorders—the first clinical trial of a gene-editing candidate sponsored by U.S. companies. “We are very encouraged by these preliminary data, the first such data to be reported for patients with beta thalassemia and sickle cell disease treated with our CRISPR/Cas9 edited autologous hematopoietic stem cell candidate CTX001,” CRISPR Therapeutics CEO Samarth Kulkarni, PhD, said in a statement. “These data support our belief in the potential of our therapies to have meaningful benefit for patients following a one-time intervention. We continue to enroll these studies as we drive forward to develop CRISPR/Cas9 therapies as a new class of transformative medicines to treat serious diseases.” Added Vertex Chairman, President and CEO Jeffrey Leiden, MD, PhD: “The data we announced today are remarkable and demonstrate that CTX001 has the potential to be a curative CRISPR/Cas9-based gene-editing therapy.”

Read More

CRISPR Gene Editing Ability Improved by Specific Modifications of tracrRNA

GEN | November 11, 2019

Scientists at the City of Hope believe they may have found a way to sharpen the fastest, cheapest, and most accurate gene editing technique, CRISPR-Cas9, so that it can more successfully cut out undesirable genetic information. This improved cutting ability could one day fast-track potential therapies for HIV, sickle cell disease, and, potentially, other immune conditions. “Our CRISPR-Cas9 design may be the difference between trying to cut a ribeye steak with a butter knife versus slicing it with a steak knife,” said Tristan Scott, PhD, lead author of the study and a staff research scientist at City of Hope’s Center for Gene Therapy. “Other scientists have tried to improve CRISPR cutting through chemical modifications, but that’s an expensive process and is like diamond-coating a blade. Instead, we have designed a better pair of scissors you can buy at any convenience store.” The study, “Improved Cas9 activity by specific modifications of the tracrRNA,” published in Scientific Reports is the first time scientists have systematically gone through the guide RNA sequence to change it and improve CRISPR-Cas9 technology, Scott said. The Kevin Morris Lab at City of Hope has filed a patent application claiming this improved CRISPR-Cas9 design, which could result in a doubling of activity but the exact amount was dependent on the target site, Scott said.

Read More

A Breath of Fresh CRISPR

GEN | November 04, 2019

Genome editing materials can’t just breeze into cells. Or can they? Even cells so well defended as lung and airway cells may admit wisps of genome editing proteins such as CRISPR-associated nucleases. All that’s needed is an inspired delivery method. One possibility is the aerosolization of amphiphilic peptides. Amphiphilic peptides combine hydrophilic and lipophilic properties and facilitate the translocation of proteins across membranes. These peptides are being evaluated for various applications, including genome editing. In fact, scientists from the University of Iowa, in collaboration with scientists from Feldan Therapeutics, recently used engineered amphiphilic peptides to deliver genome editing nucleases and ribonucleoproteins to cultured human airway epithelial cells and mouse lungs.

Read More

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