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.
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.
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.