Discovery of plant immune signaling intermediary could lead to more pest-resistant crops

Phys.org | November 26, 2019

A new actor in the immune system of plants has been identified. KAUST scientists have identified the protein MAP4K4 is needed to mount proper defenses against environmental pathogens. The discovery helps explain the tight control of immune signaling in plants and reveals targets in a molecular pathway that could be manipulated by crop breeders. "Our findings are directly applicable to make plants more resistant to pathogens," says study author, Heribert Hirt, professor of plant science at KAUST's Center for Desert Agriculture. MAP4K4 (short for mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase kinase kinase 4) is a well-established player in human immunity and inflammation, but its role in plant disease resistance was unknown. Hirt and his collaborators stumbled on it during a large screen for proteins involved in signal transduction in the weedy thale cress Arabidopsis. By studying mutant plants that lack a working copy of MAP4K4, Hirt's team then drilled down into the core functions of this protein.

Spotlight

The incorporation of mortality data into healthcare data sets allows fraud prevention, accurate billing, and benefits distribution, and true outcome analysis (especially in fatal disease areas like oncology, where survival is a key endpoint). The net effect of adding mortality data is strengthening identity protection, reducing healthcare costs, and improving health treatments and care delivery.

Spotlight

The incorporation of mortality data into healthcare data sets allows fraud prevention, accurate billing, and benefits distribution, and true outcome analysis (especially in fatal disease areas like oncology, where survival is a key endpoint). The net effect of adding mortality data is strengthening identity protection, reducing healthcare costs, and improving health treatments and care delivery.

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CELL AND GENE THERAPY

Evonetix Demonstrates Novel Enzymatic DNA Synthesis Method

EVONETIX LTD | March 02, 2022

EVONETIX LTD the synthetic biology company bringing semiconductor technology to DNA synthesis, announced it has achieved enzymatic DNA synthesis capability with its proprietary, thermally controlled synthesis chemistry. The culmination of a three-year development program, supported by Innovate UK and in collaboration with Durham University, the results demonstrate that Evonetix’s unique, semiconductor array-based platform is compatible with both chemical and enzymatic DNA synthesis, enabling the production of scarless DNA sequences that are directly compatible with downstream processing. Synthetic biology is expected to impact many industries, but the production of high-fidelity DNA at scale, without the need for post-synthesis error correction, has remained a challenge. Evonetix‘s unique approach re-engineers traditional phosphoramidite synthesis chemistry to use thermal, rather than acidic, control of deprotection reactions. This approach enables parallel synthesis of thousands of sequences on a single chip. The research was directed by Dr Raquel Sanches-Kuiper, VP of Technology at Evonetix, whose enzyme engineering team has focussed on the development of enzymes that can incorporate Evonetix modified nucleotides efficiently. The programme was completed in collaboration with Dr David Hodgson, Associate Professor of Chemistry at Durham University, whose group was involved in developing the modified nucleotides for enzymatic synthesis in Evonetix silicon arrays. “We have, for the first time, demonstrated thermally controlled enzymatic DNA synthesis. Our approach brings together thermally controlled synthesis and error detection, allowing for high-throughput assembly of high-fidelity gene-length DNA at scale. Our synthesis platform can now be used with both enzymatic and chemical synthesis, allowing us to smoothly integrate our enzymatic approach as this technology develops. Our unique, on-chip, synthesis and error correction platform will overcome many of the existing challenges in current approaches to de novo gene synthesis.” Dr Raquel Sanches-Kuiper, VP of Technology at Evonetix Dr David Hodgson, Associate Professor of Chemistry at Durham University, added: “We have been able to combine our world leading expertise in nucleotide chemistry with the novel Evonetix approach for enzymatic DNA synthesis, enabling cleaner, simpler synthesis reactions that will ultimately allow for scaled production of high-quality synthetic DNA with revolutionary applications across industry and research.” Simon Rowland, Innovate UK, commented “Engineering Biology was identified in the 2021 UK Innovation Strategy as one of the key technologies that will deliver future economic success in the UK. The rapidly growing synthetic biology market is estimated to reach $40 billion by the mid-2020s. Innovate UK supports businesses and research institutions to drive business investment into R&D and is proud to have supported Evonetix and the development of this game changing innovation in DNA synthesis.”

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Moleculin Announces Discovery of Significant In Vitro Activity Against SARS-CoV-2

Moleculin | September 29, 2020

Moleculin Biotech, Inc., (Nasdaq: MBRX) (Moleculin or the Company), a clinical stage pharmaceutical company with a broad portfolio of drug candidates targeting significant unmet needs in the treatment of tumors and viruses, announced that its research team has discovered that a molecule within its portfolio of antimetabolites has displayed significant in vitro antiviral activity against SARS-CoV-2. Independent laboratory testing of the new drug candidate, called "WP1096," has now repeatedly demonstrated a therapeutic index of greater than 10, which is considered by our team to be an industry-standard commercialization threshold for in vitro performance of antiviral drugs. Walter Klemp, Chairman and CEO of Moleculin, stated, "While we continue to see encouraging progress with WP1122 in preparation for clinical trials for the potential treatment of COVID-19, we have also continued our antiviral drug discovery program to expand the range of potential therapies. Our efforts led to a new discovery that we believe can be a game-changer. WP1096 and its close analog, WP1097, are structurally slightly different agents within the WP1122 portfolio. However, small structural changes unexpectedly resulted in high levels of antiviral activity and potentially a unique mode of action.

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CELL AND GENE THERAPY

Sysmex and ThinkCyte Have Entered into An Agreement for Joint Development and Capital Alliance

Sysmex Corporation | May 17, 2021

Sysmex Corporation and ThinkCyte, Inc. announced today the signing of joint development and investment agreements for the commercialization of an AI-based cell analysis technology in May 2021. The development of novel testing and diagnostic technologies of high clinical utility is being pursued to improve the precision of diagnoses and maximize treatment as healthcare becomes more accurate and personalized at an increased pace - in combination with the advancement of technology. Meanwhile, telehealth, AI-powered medical imaging analysis, and automated testing of robots are all gaining traction in the healthcare industry. Sysmex has been acquiring technologies for studying cells, genes, and proteins with high accuracy and sensitivity on a proactive basis. A cell analysis platform is one of the technologies that has been used in a variety of Sysmex products. In this field, Sysmex's current emphasis is on developing technologies that specifically analyze cells using different types of information such as cell function and responsiveness, as well as seeking faster cell analysis. ThinkCyte has "Ghost Cytometry technology," which analyses morphological information of cells in a quick and simple process, while the information gathered by this technology is much richer than what can be collected using conventional flow cytometry (FCM) technique. This technology, in addition to counting and analyzing cells based on their basic morphological features, helps users to identify each cell based on its specific morphological details in terms of its characteristics and functions. This high-resolution analysis will allow for highly accurate clinical condition determination using body fluids such as blood, improve precision in a wide variety of cell-based diagnoses, and contribute to more personalized healthcare. On March 31, 2021, Sysmex and ThinkCyte signed a memorandum of understanding to begin full-fledged joint development of the novel AI-based cell analysis technology as a result of ongoing collaborative research between the two companies to increase the viability of applying Ghost Cytometry technology to diagnostic techniques of high clinical value. In addition, on May 1, 2021, the two companies agreed to collaborate on joint development, with the aim of commercializing cell analyzers and testing techniques based on Ghost Cytometry technology for cell analysis (including research) in the field of in-vitro diagnostics (IVD). Meanwhile, on May 11, 2021, Sysmex agreed to make an equity investment in ThinkCyte, which will enable the two companies to enhance their strong partnership. Sysmex and ThinkCyte have formed an alliance to develop novel cell analysis technology and research techniques by combining Sysmex's IVD capabilities with ThinkCyte's proprietary Ghost Cytometry technology, thereby contributing to the advancement and evolution of healthcare around the world. About Sysmex Corporation Sysmex works to contribute to the development of healthcare and people's healthy lives in accordance with its goal of "shaping the advancement of healthcare," as described in the Sysmex Group's corporate ideology, the "Sysmex Way." Sysmex performs integrated R&D, manufacturing, and sales, as well as providing support services for its in vitro blood, urine, and other bodily fluids testing instruments, reagents, and software. Sysmex's products are sold to medical institutions in over 190 countries and regions around the world. Sysmex has been expanding its business in the life science domain in recent years, using proprietary technologies to develop new testing and diagnostic value, provide healthcare personalized to individual patients, and help patients minimize burdens and improve quality of life.

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