Peering into the past, scientists discover bacteria transformed a viral threat to survive

phys.org | May 09, 2019

Researchers at Indiana University are reporting a previously unknown way that bacteria can develop new genes to evolve and adapt to threats, an insight that might advance efforts against "superbugs." The study, published today online in the journal Current Biology, describes the first known evidence of bacteria stealing genetic material from their own worst enemy, called "phages," and transforming it to survive. Phages are bacterial viruses so lethal that they're estimated to kill about half of the bacteria in the world's oceans every two days.

Spotlight

Students in Biotechnology 459 inform other Penn State students about GMOs, or genetically modified organisms.

Spotlight

Students in Biotechnology 459 inform other Penn State students about GMOs, or genetically modified organisms.

Related News

INDUSTRIAL IMPACT

Laronde Attracts $440M in First External Financing to Further Advance Endless RNA™ Platform

Laronde | August 30, 2021

Laronde, the company pioneering Endless RNA™ a novel, engineered form of RNA that can be programmed to express therapeutic proteins inside the body, today announced that it has raised $440 Million in a Series B Financing to advance the development of its eRNA platform and a broad pipeline of programs across a number of therapeutic categories. The financing round included the company's founder, Flagship Pioneering, along with funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price Associates, Inc., Invus, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPP Investments), Fidelity Management & Research Company, funds and accounts managed by BlackRock, and Federated Hermes Kaufmann Funds, among others. "Endless RNA represents a whole new approach to making medicines and treating disease," said Diego Miralles, M.D., Chief Executive Officer of Laronde and CEO-Partner at Flagship Pioneering. "Laronde is creating a new class of drugs that can be programmed to persistently express proteins in the body, is redosable, and can be administered through simple delivery mechanisms, resulting in highly tunable protein levels. The therapeutic possibilities enabled by eRNA are vast with the potential to greatly improve global human health. Having assembled such a knowledgeable and committed group of investors gives us the ability to not only advance this powerful technology platform but also build a transformative company to support our bold vision." "Over the past few years, we have seen how programmable platforms like translatable mRNA can rapidly bring forward new medicines," said Avak Kahvejian, Ph.D., Co-Founder and Board Member of Laronde, and General Partner, Flagship Pioneering. "eRNA solves many of the limitations of other drug modalities and unlocks new opportunities for creating first- and best-in-class therapeutics. Since launch, we continue to advance the science of eRNA and have been able to precisely demonstrate a controlled expression of secreted peptides, proteins, antibodies, and vaccine constructs in vivo through the use of an array of delivery options, including subcutaneous administration. Given the programmability of the platform and its unique pharmacology, we anticipate accelerated development timelines and a higher rate of program success than traditional biotech programs." "The field of biotech is at the leading edge of technological progress, challenging us to think beyond incremental advances and to take big leaps – Endless RNA is one of those big leaps," said Noubar Afeyan, Ph.D., Co-founder and Chairman of the Board of Laronde and Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Flagship Pioneering. "We are delighted that investors well familiar with the power and potential of Flagship's bioplatforms are fueling Laronde as we scale the company and the platform to realize the potential of this powerful new class of medicines." About Endless RNA™ Ribonucleic Acids, or RNAs, play a significant role in biology. Among their functions, they provide the "code" that instructs cells to produce or regulate proteins, the building blocks of life and important regulators of disease processes. Because RNAs provide coded instructions to cells, they can be programmed to produce specific effects. This approach has been validated by the successful development of several important RNA-based medicines, but RNA's potential as a drug development modality has just begun. Endless RNA™, or eRNA, was invented at Flagship Labs and is a new class of synthetic, closed-loop RNA. Because eRNA has no free ends, it is not recognized by the immune system and is very stable, enabling a long duration of protein expression. In addition, eRNA can serve protein-coding and non-protein-coding functions, and its protein translation capabilities are completely modular switching an eRNA "protein sequence cassette" enables the expression of a different protein or multiple proteins that can be tuned as needed on an application-by-application basis. About Laronde Laronde is pioneering a platform that offers a completely novel way of modulating human biology. Endless RNA™, invented at Flagship Labs, is a uniquely engineered RNA that can be programmed to express diverse proteins inside the body. It is persistent, non-immunogenic, allows for repeat dosing, and offers flexibility in formulation and delivery. Laronde was founded in 2017 by Flagship Labs, the innovation foundry of Flagship Pioneering. The company is rapidly scaling to support the parallel development of multiple programs across many disease areas. About Flagship Pioneering Flagship Pioneering conceives, creates, resources, and develops first-in-category bioplatform companies to transform human health and sustainability. Since its launch in 2000, the firm has, through its Flagship Labs unit, applied its unique hypothesis-driven innovation process to originate and foster more than 100 scientific ventures, resulting in over $130 billion in aggregate value. To date, Flagship has deployed over $2.5 billion in capital toward the founding and growth of its pioneering companies alongside more than $19 billion of follow-on investments from other institutions. The current Flagship ecosystem comprises 41 transformative companies, including Denali Therapeutics , Indigo Ag, Moderna , Rubius Therapeutics , Sana Biotechnology , Seres Therapeutics , and Valo Health.

Read More

CELL AND GENE THERAPY

Research Demonstrates Novel HIT Receptor Enhances T cell Antigen Sensitivity and Elicits Superior Tumor Control

Mnemo Therapeutics | January 24, 2022

The journal Nature Medicine recently published a study in which researchers developed a novel receptor to enhance recognition of tumors by engineered T cells, addressing an underlying cause for relapsed tumors in patients after chimeric antigen receptor therapy. The study demonstrates high antigen sensitivity of HLA-independent T-cell receptors, created by editing the TCR Alpha Constant chain locus in human peripheralbio blood Tcells. Low antigen expression One major limitation of CARs is antigen escape, when a tumor no longer expresses the antigen detectable by the CARs or expresses them at a very low level; CARs with heightened sensitivity to low-expression level antigens boosts the efficacy of otherwise promising T-cell therapies. In the study, conducted by researchers at New York's Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, researchers produced HIT T-cells and analyzed them in animal models HIT T-cells were engineered from human peripheral blood T-cells by inserting variable region genes in the TRAC locus, endowing the cell with a single specificity for a target antigen such as CD19. Notably, this sensitivity was shown to be higher than traditional CARs for low levels of antigen expression resulting in superior cytotoxicity and cytokine secretion. HIT Tcells outperformed traditional CAR T-cells in vivo in mouse models of B cell leukemia and acute myeloid leukemia, without costimulation. Coexpression of HIT with CD80 and 4-1BBL further augmented therapeutic activity and mouse survival. HIT T-cells are a promising therapy for targeting cancer cell surface antigens with low abundance due to their sensitivity and persistence. The team responsible for this important work includes MSKCC researcher and Mnemo Therapeutics scientific cofounder Michel Sadelain, M.D., Ph.D., MSKCC researcher and Mnemo scientific advisor Isabelle Rivière, Ph.D., as well as Justin Eyquem, Ph.D., University of California San Franciso and Mnemo scientific cofounder. Mnemo's EnfiniT Platform These findings support Mnemo's EnfiniT platform as the next-generation toolkit for CAR-T immunotherapies, which are founded on decades of breakthrough research from Institut Curie and MSKCC, and supported with best-in-class T-cell manufacturing. The EnfiniT platform brings together a suite of technologies to address the key challenges associated with CAR T therapies by both identifying a new class of antigens with greater tumor specificity and applying a range of technologies to significantly improve T-cell memory, persistence and sensitivity. The goal is to dramatically improve the body's ability to fight and overcome disease. About Mnemo Therapeutics Mnemo Therapeutics is a biotechnology company focused on the development of powerful new cell therapies. With its EnfiniT platform, Mnemo applies a novel, integrated approach to T-cell therapy to transform the body's immune response to overcome disease. Mnemo is headquartered in Paris with an office in New York City, and it maintains state of the art laboratories in Paris, New York, and Princeton, New Jersey. The company leverages an international talent pool and global resources in its quest to create accessible cures for all patients in need.

Read More

MEDICAL

Recipharm and Moderna Finalize Agreement to Support Formulation and Fill-Finish a part of the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine Supply Outside of the U.S.

Recipharm | January 04, 2021

Moderna, Inc. (NASDAQ:MRNA), biotechnology organization spearheading courier RNA (mRNA) therapeutics and vaccines, and Recipharm (STO: RECI-B), a main contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO), today reported that they have agreed to help detailing and fill-finish a part of the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine supply outside of the U.S. The action will be acted in Recipharm's medication item producing office located in France. Subject to regulatory approval of the immunization in important nations outside of the U.S., it is anticipated that supply will commence in early 2021. “We are making important progress in the development of the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine and we are pleased to be entering into this collaboration with Recipharm,” said Nicolas Chornet, Senior Vice President, International Manufacturing of Moderna. “We look forward to their support in the delivery of our vaccine to market.”

Read More