Scientists Who Selfie: Building Public Trust Through Social Media

JEFF ATKINS | May 10, 2019 | 85 views

There are many ways to communicate science, but few as expedient and direct as social media. But while Twitter and Instagram have given scientists unprecedented, unfiltered reach to new audiences, there has been a desire to understand how scientists who use those platforms are perceived by those audiences. A recent paper published in PLOS ONE details results from the Scientists of Instagram project which highlights how real-life scientists share their work and lives via Instagram and how they are perceived by survey respondents.

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Viralytics Limited

Viralytics is focused on the development and commercialisation of oncolytic immunotherapies that harness the power of certain viruses to preferentially infect and kill cancer cells. Our lead product candidate is CAVATAKTM, a proprietary formulation of the common cold Coxsackievirus Type A21 (CVA21). It is being evaluated in Phase 1 and 2 clinical trials in various treatment settings against a range of cancer indications.

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Top 10 biotech IPOs in 2019

Article | July 13, 2022

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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MEDTECH

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

Article | July 16, 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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MEDTECH

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

Article | July 12, 2022

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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Selexis Cell Line Development Strategies

Article | February 11, 2020

In today’s biotechnology landscape, to be competitive, meet regulations, and achieve market demands, “we must apply Bioprocessing 4.0,” said Igor Fisch, PhD, CEO, Selexis. In fact, in the last decade, “Selexis has evolved from cloning by limiting dilution to automated cell selection to nanofluidic chips and from monoclonality assessment by statistical calculation to proprietary bioinformatic analysis,” he added. Single-use processing systems are an expanding part of the biomanufacturing world; as such, they are a major component of Bioprocessing 4.0. “At Selexis, we use single use throughout our cell line development workflow. Currently, we have incorporated single-use automated bioprocessing systems such as ambr® and the Beacon® optofluidic platform for accelerated cell line development. By using these systems and optimizing our parameters, we were able to achieve high titers in shake flasks. Additionally, the Beacon systems integrate miniaturized cell culture with high-throughput liquid handling automation and cell imaging. This allows us to control, adjust, and monitor programs at the same time,” noted Fisch.

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Spotlight

Viralytics Limited

Viralytics is focused on the development and commercialisation of oncolytic immunotherapies that harness the power of certain viruses to preferentially infect and kill cancer cells. Our lead product candidate is CAVATAKTM, a proprietary formulation of the common cold Coxsackievirus Type A21 (CVA21). It is being evaluated in Phase 1 and 2 clinical trials in various treatment settings against a range of cancer indications.

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New species of flying squirrel from Southwest China added to the rarest and most wanted

phys.org | July 18, 2019

Described in 1981, the genus Biswamoyopterus is regarded as the most mysterious and rarest amongst all flying squirrels. It comprises two large 1.4-1.8 kg species endemic to southern Asia the Namdapha flying squirrel (India) and the Laotian giant flying squirrel (Lao PDR). Each is only known from a single specimen discovered in 1981 and 2013, respectively. Recently, in 2018, a specimen identifiable as Biswamoyopteruswas unexpectedly found in the collections of the Kunming Institute of Zoology (KIZ), Chinese Academy of Sciences by in-house expert Quan Li. It had been collected from Mount Gaoligong in Yunnan Province, Southwest China. Initially, the individual was considered to belong to the "missing" Namdapha flying squirrel: a species considered as critically endangered due to hunting and habitat loss. The latter had not ever been recorded since its original description in 1981 and was already listed as one of the top 25 "most wanted" species in the world by the Global Wildlife Conservation.

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Tornadoes, windstorms pave way for lasting plant invasions

phys.org | July 18, 2019

When tornadoes touch down, we brace for news of property damage, injuries, and loss of life, but the high-speed wind storms wreak environmental havoc, too. They can cut through massive swaths of forest, destroying trees and wildlife habitat, and opening up opportunities for invasive species to gain ground. A new University of Illinois study, published in the Journal of Ecology, shows that large blowdown areas in southern Illinois forests are more heavily invaded and slower to recover than smaller areas. The research guides management decisions for windstorm-prone forests. "We used satellite imagery and grueling on-the-ground surveys to look at what was happening with invasive plants after a series of windstorms—a tornado in 2006, a derecho in 2009, and another tornado in 2017—hit southern Illinois forests," says Eric Larson, assistant professor in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences at U of I and co-author on the study. "We assume the forest recovers and those invaders get shaded out, but they may not. They could potentially prevent forest recovery or spread into surrounding areas."

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Little genes, big conservation: Scientists study genetic rescue

phys.org | July 17, 2019

At first glance, there arent many similarities between westslope cutthroat trout in Montana, wolves on Isle Royale National Park in Michigan and Australias mountain pygmy possum, a mouse-sized alpine marsupial. With all three, though, managers have attempted or explored the possibility of genetic rescue, a conservation approach that involves moving a small number of individual animals from one population to another to reduce genetic problems and decrease extinction risk. Now, a new paper by University of Montana scientists examines the potential and uncertainties of attempting genetic rescue. The peer-reviewed paper, published this month in the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution, is a synthesis and summary of the state of genetic rescue. In this opinion piece, the authors focus on what is unknown about genetic rescue and where research could go in the future. The authors define genetic rescue as a decrease in population extinction probability owing to gene flow, best measured as in increase in population growth.

Read More

New species of flying squirrel from Southwest China added to the rarest and most wanted

phys.org | July 18, 2019

Described in 1981, the genus Biswamoyopterus is regarded as the most mysterious and rarest amongst all flying squirrels. It comprises two large 1.4-1.8 kg species endemic to southern Asia the Namdapha flying squirrel (India) and the Laotian giant flying squirrel (Lao PDR). Each is only known from a single specimen discovered in 1981 and 2013, respectively. Recently, in 2018, a specimen identifiable as Biswamoyopteruswas unexpectedly found in the collections of the Kunming Institute of Zoology (KIZ), Chinese Academy of Sciences by in-house expert Quan Li. It had been collected from Mount Gaoligong in Yunnan Province, Southwest China. Initially, the individual was considered to belong to the "missing" Namdapha flying squirrel: a species considered as critically endangered due to hunting and habitat loss. The latter had not ever been recorded since its original description in 1981 and was already listed as one of the top 25 "most wanted" species in the world by the Global Wildlife Conservation.

Read More

Tornadoes, windstorms pave way for lasting plant invasions

phys.org | July 18, 2019

When tornadoes touch down, we brace for news of property damage, injuries, and loss of life, but the high-speed wind storms wreak environmental havoc, too. They can cut through massive swaths of forest, destroying trees and wildlife habitat, and opening up opportunities for invasive species to gain ground. A new University of Illinois study, published in the Journal of Ecology, shows that large blowdown areas in southern Illinois forests are more heavily invaded and slower to recover than smaller areas. The research guides management decisions for windstorm-prone forests. "We used satellite imagery and grueling on-the-ground surveys to look at what was happening with invasive plants after a series of windstorms—a tornado in 2006, a derecho in 2009, and another tornado in 2017—hit southern Illinois forests," says Eric Larson, assistant professor in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences at U of I and co-author on the study. "We assume the forest recovers and those invaders get shaded out, but they may not. They could potentially prevent forest recovery or spread into surrounding areas."

Read More

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phys.org | July 17, 2019

At first glance, there arent many similarities between westslope cutthroat trout in Montana, wolves on Isle Royale National Park in Michigan and Australias mountain pygmy possum, a mouse-sized alpine marsupial. With all three, though, managers have attempted or explored the possibility of genetic rescue, a conservation approach that involves moving a small number of individual animals from one population to another to reduce genetic problems and decrease extinction risk. Now, a new paper by University of Montana scientists examines the potential and uncertainties of attempting genetic rescue. The peer-reviewed paper, published this month in the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution, is a synthesis and summary of the state of genetic rescue. In this opinion piece, the authors focus on what is unknown about genetic rescue and where research could go in the future. The authors define genetic rescue as a decrease in population extinction probability owing to gene flow, best measured as in increase in population growth.

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