How Are Humans Affecting Animal Genetic Diversity?

Technology Networks | October 23, 2019

Human population density and land use is causing changes in animal genetic diversity, according to researchers at McGill University. The findings reported in the journal Ecology Letters, show that environmental changes caused by humans are leading to changes in genetic variation in thousands of species of birds, fish, insects, and mammals. The evidence for human impacts was most clear for insects and fish species. Because species depend on genetic variation to adapt and evolve in response to environmental change, many species we rely on may disappear as their susceptibility to habitat loss, pollution and climate change grows. While we can observe the effect of humans on the planet's biodiversity through the lens of animal extinctions, it was unclear until now just how much humans were eroding the underlying ability of biodiversity to sustain itself. A team of biologists at McGill drew upon the largest genetic data repositories available, accumulating over 175,000 sequences from more than 27,000 populations of 17,082 animal species. Using the year each genetic sequence was collected and its spatial coordinates, the authors were able to assess whether the effect of humans has resulted in temporal trends (increase, decrease, no effect) between 1980 and 2016. A previous investigation of this relationship had not focused on tracking diversity over time, nor the way it changes in space.

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This infographic related to the Biotech Crops.

Spotlight

This infographic related to the Biotech Crops.

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RESEARCH

TurtleTree and Solar Biotech enter strategic partnership

TurtleTree | August 16, 2021

Solar Biotech, led by industrial biotech expert Alex Berlin, has become a significant piece of the puzzle for sustainable food tech companies taking products to market. TurtleTree knew from the beginning that one of the biggest challenges for food tech companies was developing the technologies required to scale up bio-manufacturing processes. TurtleTree is a biotech company based in Singapore and the US. The company is focused on providing access to the best nutrients in milk using sustainable technologies. With so many food tech companies coming onto the scene, dedicated talent and resources needed to reach commercial scale are scarce. Microbes like yeast and fungi are nature's perfect tools for bio-manufacturing. Precision fermentation uses microbial hosts as cell factories to produce specific beneficial ingredients in a controlled environment without having to go through animal agriculture. What happens in the lab is just half the battle. Efficient precision fermentation and product recovery at an industrial scale demand agility, flexibility, decades of experience, unique multidisciplinary process and equipment engineering, and a well-connected network of bioprocessing and microbial biotech partners, all professionally taken care of by Solar Biotech. Many startups and VC's believe major breakthroughs in the lab will result in the real-world commercialization of bioproducts. The reality is that many projects run into years of roadblocks and scale-up challenges making commercial viability difficult. There is a major difference between traditional fermentation methods, where the microbial biomass itself is the end product, and precision fermentation, where a highly technical skillset is required to obtain the specific desired bioproduct synthesized by the microbial host. A key factor in reaching price parity with traditional food production methods is the availability of technologically advanced large-scale food-grade bioprocessing facilities, which combine precision fermentation and downstream processing lines that are customized for each player. Based on a Good Food Institute (GFI) report, available biomanufacturing facilities suitable for food precision fermentation is only 3% of the total manufacturing capacity. With the increasing demand for large-scale precision fermentation, we are already seeing the supply falling short. Alex Berlin, Solar Biotech Founder, CEO & CTO, having built his extensive experience from his time at Novozymes and other industrial biotech companies, has a track record of developing and scaling up bioproducts that were quite challenging for many others. The TurtleTree team identified this value early on, built a strong collaboration model, and made an investment in Solar Biotech. "TurtleTree's decision to back Alex Berlin and Solar Biotech's team from the early days has started to pay dividends. Our teams can focus on lab-scale R&D and go-to-market as we look to play a major role in the sustainable food supply chain, while Solar Biotech delivers the bioprocessing technologies required for production at scale," says Max Rye, co-founder and chief strategist of TurtleTree. "My team and I are passionate about not only producing the food of the future but also about making a difference in the way these bioproducts are made. Industrial Biomanufacturing at scale has not evolved significantly for decades. We are committed to making a difference, in particular, with a focus on the deployment of unique cutting edge and sustainable bioprocessing technologies. We believe solar energy and a circular economy strategy will play a major role in how we produce novel bio-processed ingredients," says Alex Berlin. About TurtleTree TurtleTree is unlocking access to the natural ingredients found in milk using a host of cell-based technologies. Together with its valued partners, TurtleTree is able to achieve resource efficiency and provide millions with access to the beneficial nutrients found in milk. We aim to transform performance nutrition, food systems, and cellular agriculture with our cell-based technology platform. About Solar Biotech Founded in 2019 by Alex Berlin, Solar Biotech brings bioproducts from benchtop to industrial bioprocessing commercial scale. Its proprietary technology uses a combination of unique technologies, skills, and experience to swiftly adapt to the needs of each bioproduct. Solar Biotech customises modular plant architectures, called BioNodes, for specific bioproducts. Solar Biotech's 100% solar-powered platform and facility help precision fermentation companies scale up their operations sustainably and at a fraction of the cost.

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MEDTECH

Halo Labs Launches the Aura GT™ for Gene Therapy Product Quality

Halo Labs | October 05, 2021

Halo Labs, a life science instrumentation company developing tools for biologics researchers, today announced it has launched its latest product, Aura GT. Aura GT is part of the next generation in Halo Labs' popular family of instruments. Using Backgrounded Membrane Imaging (BMI) and Fluorescence Membrane Microscopy (FMM), Aura GT can distinguish aggregated capsids from contaminants, carrier proteins, and other particles that might adversely harm patients. Unique to Aura GT is the fact that it can also identify DNA leakage in gene therapy products so the mechanism of aggregation can be determined and corrected. Aura GT is going to completely revolutionize gene therapy product development. Gene therapy products are inherently unstable, which is a huge challenge. Up until now, there has been no effective way to correlate capsid aggregation with DNA leakage or empty and full capsids, In one assay, Aura GT can quantify capsid aggregates, distinguish them from protein aggregates, and determine if the aggregation is exacerbated by DNA leaking. - Bernardo Cordovez, Chief Science Officer at Halo Labs. We are very excited to be launching our second instrument this year specifically developed for the cell and gene therapy market, Halo Labs has quickly become a leader in gene therapy analytics because we can answer many questions with very little volume. While other subvisible particle analyzers only do one thing, Aura systems offer a complete multi-assay platform that can be used to fully characterize gene therapy products from early development through lot release. - Rick Gordon, CEO of Halo Labs. About Halo Labs Halo Labs in Burlingame, CA is a venture-backed scientific instrumentation and consumable company that commercializes high throughput biopharmaceutical formulation, stability, and product quality control tools for aggregate and subvisible particle analysis using state-of-the-art custom optics and image processing techniques. Biopharmaceutical companies around the globe depend on Halo Labs for unprecedented insights into their drug products.

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INDUSTRIAL IMPACT

Legend Biotech Achieves Milestone Payments in BCMA CAR-T Collaboration with Janssen

Legend Biotech Corporation | February 14, 2022

Legend Biotech Corporation, a global, clinical-stage biotechnology company developing and manufacturing novel therapies, has achieved two milestones under its collaboration agreement with Janssen Biotech, Inc. for ciltacabtagene autoleucel (cilta-cel), resulting in aggregate payments to Legend Biotech of $50 million. Cilta-cel is a B-cell maturation antigen (BCMA)-directed chimeric antigen receptor T-cell (CAR-T) therapy. Legend Biotech entered into the agreement with Janssen to develop, manufacture and commercialize cilta-cel for the treatment of multiple myeloma. Under the agreement, Legend Biotech received an upfront payment of $350 million and is entitled to receive additional payments upon achievement of landmarks for development, production performance, regulatory and sales. The global agreement specifies a 50-50 cost and profit-sharing agreement in all markets, excluding Greater China, where the split is 70 percent for Legend and 30 percent for Janssen. Including the payments announced above, Legend has achieved $250 million in milestone payments during the collaboration. About Cilta-cel Cilta-cel is an investigational chimeric antigen receptor T cell (CAR-T) therapy, formerly identified as JNJ-4528 in the United States and Europe and LCAR-B38M CAR-T cells in China, that is being studied in a comprehensive clinical development program for the treatment of patients with relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma and in earlier lines of treatment. The design consists of a structurally differentiated CAR-T with two BCMA-targeting single domain antibodies. In addition to a Breakthrough Therapy Designation (BTD) granted in the United States in December 2019, cilta-cel received a Priority Medicines (PRiME) designation from the European Commission in April 2019, and a BTD in China in August 2020. In addition, Orphan Drug Designation was granted for cilta-cel by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in February 2019, and by the European Commission in February 2020. A Biologics License Application seeking approval of cilta-cel was submitted to the U.S. FDA and a Marketing Authorization Application was submitted to the European Medicines Agency. About Legend Biotech Legend Biotech is a global, clinical-stage biotechnology company dedicated to treating, and one day curing, life-threatening diseases. Headquartered in Somerset, New Jersey, we are developing advanced cell therapies across a diverse array of technology platforms, including autologous and allogenic chimeric antigen receptor T-cell, T-cell receptor (TCR-T), and natural killer (NK) cell-based immunotherapy. From our three R&D sites around the world, we apply these innovative technologies to pursue the discovery of safe, efficacious and cutting-edge therapeutics for patients worldwide. We are currently engaged in a strategic collaboration to develop and commercialize our lead product candidate, ciltacabtagene autoleucel, an investigational BCMA-targeted CAR-T cell therapy for patients living with multiple myeloma. Applications seeking approval of cilta-cel for the treatment of patients with RRMM are currently under regulatory review by several health authorities around the world, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the European Medicines Agency.

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