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VATIS Update Biotechnology . Oct-Dec 2015

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Biotechnology Oct-Dec 2015

ISSN: 0971-5622

VATIS Update Biotechnology is published 4 times a year to keep the readers up to date of most of the relevant and latest technological developments and events in the field of Biotechnology. The Update is tailored to policy-makers, industries and technology transfer intermediaries.

Co-publisher: Biotech Consortium India Ltd
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Contents

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IN THE NEWS

Pollution control inspections may revise in India

The government of India may consider the possibility of revising pollution control inspections of production plants to a once in five-year format from the current the practice of frequent and surprise checks. “The proposal is part of the government’s efforts to ensure a favourable environment to attract investments in India and restore the confidence of global investors in the pharma-biotech manufacturing sector,” said Dr. V.K. Subburaj, at department of pharmaceuticals (DoP). Ministry of environment & forests (MoEF), which has listed industries under red, orange and green categories based on the heavy pollutant discharges includes fermentation and pharmaceuticals under its Central Action Plan.

The simplification of central and state pollution control board inspections to once in five years is expected to provide much ease of operation for the pharma and biotechnology sectors which come under the red category industries identified by MoEF. There are several grievances and criticisms about the pharma and biotech manufacturing plants as they are known to increase pollution for residential areas coming up in the vicinity of industrial zones earmarked for only manufacturing operations. Now pharma and biotech units view this as the way forward to remain constantly compliant to the norms. The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) is now assessing the norms and is proposing a revision. A revised concept note to this effect is underway.

“We hope the proposal will come through and it would be the best that could happen to the pharma and bio-pharma industries. Moreover it would indicate to the potential global investor that safe environment practices along with simplified pollution inspections norms are being put in place,” said Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, MD Biocon Limited, India. It is advisable to revise the pollution inspections from frequent and annual checks to a once in five-year format based on the risk assessment of ICH Q9 guidelines. It should not be done directly once in five years. In case of some major observations, then it is annual and for the less major observations then it is once in two years. Similarly, Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) sometimes audits once in three years.
Source: http://www.pharmabiz.com

India and Denmark to begin joint research projects

To further develop and strengthen the Danish-Indian research cooperation within health science biotechnology, India and Denmark will soon embark on strategic research projects within human health science biotechnology. Department of biotechnology (DBT), India and the Innovation Fund Denmark (previously Danish Council for Strategic Research) are the implementing agencies for this research project.

The objective of this progamme, through the present joint strategic research programme, is to strengthen and intensify the research effort within the area of human health science biotechnology and to integrate the specific competencies of the Indo-Danish research groups involved. Further, for both countries it is of major importance to provide human health science biotechnology solutions that accommodates the related challenges in a sustainable way.

The research will link basic biological research and health and disease awareness with clinical research, including epidemiology. The research aims to develop more rapid and precise diagnostics and better prevention together with new, targeted, effective and personalized medical interventions and care. Both the DBT and the IFD have invited scientists from universities, research institutions and private companies in India and Denmark to apply for funding of joint Indo-Danish strategic research projects within the area of human health science biotechnology.
Source: http://www.pharmabiz.com

National biodiversity project in India

In order to ensure compliance to Biological Diversity Act, 2002 and Rules, 2004, the Indian National Biodiversity Authority (NBA) has started implementation of the first national project with focus on access and benefit sharing (ABS) provisions in 5 states of the country. The project is implemented in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, West Bengal, Himachal Pradesh and Sikkim by the NBA in collaboration with the respective state biodiversity boards, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)-Division of Environmental Law and Conventions (DELC), United Nations University – Institute of Advanced Studies (UNU-IAS) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The project aims to develop standardized economic valuation methods for valuing biodiversity in the selected ecosystem, developing database on biological resources to tap ABS potential in project states. It will also help in assessing and quantifying the economic value of biological diversity present at local, state and national levels using appropriate methodologies, determining benefit sharing and informing national decision makers on prioritizing conservation action. This will also be instrumental in developing legal tools, methodologies, guidelines and frameworks for ABS mechanism.

Implementation of the project also involves capacity building for stakeholders in decision-making process, piloting ABS agreements in project states, promotion and strengthening of biodiversity funds at national, state and local levels besides strategizing public awareness programmes and facilitating level playing for public, NGOs and private sector on ABS. Government of India has enacted Biological Diversity Act (2002) and Rules (2004) for conservation of biological diversity, sustainable use of its components and fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the use of biological resources, knowledge and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
Source: http://www.pharmabiz.com

Researchers to develop new low-cost heart valve

Researchers from Colorado State University (CSU), the United States, and the Ohio State University (OSU), the United States, and the PSG Institute of Medical Science and Research, India, will work together, to develop a low-cost prosthetic heart valve for India. The research will get a grant for 2 years from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the US and Department of Biotechnology in India. The principal investigators will be Dr. P. R. Murugesan of PSG Hospitals and Dr. Lakshmi Prasad Dasi of CSU. They plan to develop a valve that is superior to the mechanical-tissue valves in use now. Plastic materials will be used to address problems associated with rheumatic heart valve disease, which is common in developing nations.

“Patients who receive mechanical heart valves must remain on lifelong medication to prevent clotting of blood. These have their own side effects and complications. Bioprosthestic valves, usually made from animal tissue, are prone to hardening over time. They last only 10-15 years. The valve to be developed under this project will be made from flexible plastic materials containing hyaluronan, a chemical found in natural heart valve tissues. Its design will be optimised for superior performance over a longer period without needing anticoagulation therapy,” said Dr. Dasi. The PSG Institute has already opened a new lab to conduct pre-clinical studies in pigs and sheep in Coimbatore.
Source: http://www.newindianexpress.com

Fast-track nod for dengue drug

Asia’s largest vaccine maker, Serum Institute of India, plans to file for fast-track approval to launch a dengue treatment in India, potentially becoming the first company globally to launch a drug for the mosquito-borne virus. Serum’s plans come as India battles soaring death rates from dengue and its capital New Delhi faces the worst outbreak of the virus in five years, exposing inadequate public health measures to combat the disease. Dengue is common in India and cases generally peak in October, after the monsoon rains. It is one of the biggest causes of hospitalization and death among children in India.

Serum bought exclusive rights from Visterra, the United States, to sell its innovative monoclonal antibody, VIS513, as a treatment for dengue in the Indian subcontinent in a deal worth up to $39 million. Visterra has tested the antibody on animals so far. “Once you inject this into a patient who has dengue, they should show a result within three or four days, or even sooner. It won’t be a normal vaccine trial that needs to go into thousands of thousands of patients to prove its safety and efficacy. Approvals to launch new drugs generally take about three to four years in India,” said Adar Poonawalla, Chief Executive of Serum.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), except for a dip in 2011, the number of dengue cases in the country has been steadily rising since 2007. There is no dedicated treatment for the virus, and infected patients are generally asked to rest, drink fluids, and take paracetamol to bring down fever and reduce joint pains. There is no vaccine for dengue available in the market, but there are some undergoing clinical trials. Serum, the world’s fifth-largest vaccines maker by volume, will price its dengue treatment at between 5,000 rupees ($75.85) and 10,000 rupees per injection.
Source: http://www.reuters.com

Virtual centre for bioenergy

To develop advanced technologies in the area of bio-fuels, paving the way for a sustainable solution to the energy crisis, the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), under the Ministry of Science and Technology (MoST), government of India, has launched Pan-IIT Centre for Bioenergy, a virtual centre spread across five Indian Institutes of Technology – Bombay, Kharagpur, Guwahati, Jodhpur, and Roorkee. The first virtual centre for collaborative research, to be coordinated by IIT Bombay, will focus on the thematic areas of research in advance bio-fuel technologies.

The collaboration, initiated in January 2015 and engaged a research team from the five participating institutes, consisting of 32 investigators who have been working on bioenergy, will jointly undertake research activities in cyanobacterial bio-fuels, biofuels from micro-algae, ligno-cellulosic bio-mass to biofuels and techno-economic and life cycle analysis. Though the first virtual centre, it is the fourth centre in bioenergy research set up by DBT in addition to the DBT-IOC Centre for Advanced Bioenergy Faridabad, DBT-ICT Centre for Energy Biosciences, Mumbai and DBT-ICGEB Centre for Advanced Bioenergy, New Delhi. The centre also aims to develop a mutually beneficial relationship with the bioenergy industry in India.
Source: http://www.thehindu.com

China to mass produce Ebola vaccine

Tianjin CanSino Biotechnology Inc., China, a private biotechnology company, plans to mass produce a vaccine against the Ebola virus developed by Chinese military scientists. Tianjin has started construction of an industry base to produce the vaccine in the Tianjin Economic and Technological Development Area (TEDA). Investment into the base totals 2 billion yuan (about $317 million) and construction will complete in September 2018.

The base also produces other vaccines against pneumonia, meningitis and tuberculosis. Annual production is around 200 million vaccines. Developed by a team of biotech experts with the Chinese Academy of Military Medical Sciences, the Ebola vaccine is based on the 2014 mutant gene type and in the form of freeze-dried powder, which can remain stable for at least two weeks in temperatures of up to 37 degrees Celsius.

Experts say that it is suitable for the tropical climate in West African countries, where the deadly epidemic outbreak has killed more than 11,297 people since 2014. According to the ministry of health of Sierra Leone, one of the three most affected countries along with Liberia and Guinea, the vaccine has proven “clinically safe”. Since the outbreak, China has offered 120 million US dollars of aid and 500 medical staff and experts to affected countries.
Source: http://www.ndtv.com

India receives proposal for GM mustard plantation

Since the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government in India put a moratorium on commercial cropping of Monsanto’s Bt Brinjal in 2010, the Centre has received the first ever proposal for clearance in 5 years to let farmers grow a transgenic food crop, a genetically modified (GM) hybrid variety of the mustard plant. The decision on the proposal would have to be taken by the environment ministry on behalf of the Union government. This would not be the first time that a proposal for commercial cultivation of GM Mustard comes up before the government.

Dr. Deepak Pental, developer of the GM mustard seed at Delhi University, said that he had sent the proposal to the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) in mid-September. The GEAC is the statutory authority that appraises proposals for field trials and commercial release of GM crops, but its views are not binding on the government. The final call on such clearances lies with the Union environment, forests and climate change minister.

The planting season for mustard ends in the third week of November. Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana account for nearly 70 per cent of India’s production of the crop. The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has permitted field trials of GM crops in the past, despite opposition from Swadeshi Jagran Manch, an RSS-affiliate. Though decision-making on the issue has been put behind a veil of opaqueness. The GEAC took a decision last year to not disclose the agenda of its meetings or other information on the proposals it reviews pro-actively and provide it only in response to specific queries under the RTI Act.
Source: http://www.business-standard.com

Global endoscopy market value to rise by $9.7 bn

According to research and consulting firm GlobalData, the United Kingdom, the global endoscopy market will rise in value from $5.7 billion in 2014 to just under $9.7 billion by 2021, representing a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 6.9%. The company’s latest report stated that this growth, which will occur across the 10 major markets of the US, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, UK, Japan, Brazil, China and India, will be driven primarily by increasing adoption of endoscopic surgeries and screening programs, as well as a rising patient population.

Wenlu Hu, GlobalData’s analyst covering medical devices, said that the use of minimally invasive endoscopy techniques for both diagnostic and therapeutic purposes will increase in proportion with the rising prevalence of diseases worldwide. “Endoscopy offers the possibility of accurate visualization of the current state of patients with a variety of diseases, which consequently improves the treatment process. Early disease diagnosis is the key to reducing healthcare expenses, meaning endoscopy techniques play a vital role in treating patients in the most cost-effective manner,” explained Hu.

The most promising areas of growth are colonoscopy, gastroscopy, cystoscopy, bronchoscopy, laryngoscopy, and endoscopy visualization systems, where there has been significant focus in terms of pipeline development. GlobalData’s report also stated that the endoscopy market is highly fragmented and experiences fierce pricing competition, meaning companies require shrewd corporate strategies in order to increase their market shares.
Source: http://www.biospectrumasia.com

Sinovac to supply flu vaccine in China

Chinese government has recently announced Sinovac Biotech, China, as the supplier of the seasonal influenza vaccine for its 2015 vaccination campaign in Beijing. The Chinese government said that it planned to order a minimum of 1.2 million doses of the seasonal flu vaccine from four manufacturers for its 2015 campaign. “We are pleased to be selected by the Chinese government to supply seasonal flu vaccines for Beijing citizens. This vaccination campaign is an important step in protecting geriatric and school-age populations from influenza,” said Mr. Weidong Yin, of Sinovac.

Every year, the Beijing evaluates potential suppliers on product quality, service and price, among other factors. Sinovac Biotech is a biopharmaceutical company that focuses on the research, development, manufacturing, and commercialization of vaccines that protect against human infectious diseases. Sinovac’s product portfolio includes vaccines against hepatitis A and B, seasonal influenza, H5N1 pandemic influenza (avian flu), H1N1 influenza (swine flu), mumps and canine rabies.
Source: http://www.biospectrumasia.com

Researchers set to exploit supercomputer in Japan

SGI Japan Ltd., a part of Silicon Graphics International Corp. (SGI), the United States, that deals with high-performance solutions for computer, data analytics and data management, has accepted an order from the Institute for Chemical Research (ICR) at Kyoto University, Japan, for its next supercomputer system, a SGI UV 2000. The new system will be used for Kyoto ICR’s advanced and interdisciplinary research in chemistry and biology. It will also be used by researchers throughout Japan as a shared computational platform for national universities and research centers.

In addition, this system will be used as the platform for GenomeNet, one of the world’s largest biological information services developed by ICR’s Bioinformatics Center and used by about 30,000 researchers per day from Japan and other countries. The supercomputer will promote new life sciences research based on genome information and its application to drug discovery, medical care and environment conservation. SGI Japan will install the products, build the system, and perform operations and maintenance. The system will start operation in January 2016.

The new system will enable the comprehensive analysis of many parameter spaces and larger and more reliable simulations for fields requiring high computation capabilities, like chemical calculation, including quantum chemical calculation and biomacromolecular modeling. This system will consist of five server groups: GenomeNet calculation servers, chemical calculation servers, GenomeNet servers, chemistry database servers and file servers. These server groups will be combined with a fast Lustre file system and a large-capacity NFS. The center of the system will contain the GenomeNet servers and chemical calculation servers.
Source: http://www.biospectrumasia.com

MARKET NEWS

Novartis launches first U.S. biosimilar drug

Novartis, Switzerland, kicked off a new era in U.S. medicine with the launch of the first “biosimilar” copy of a biotechnology drug approved in the United States, at a discount of 15 percent to the original. Novartis’ generics unit Sandoz said Zarxio, its form of Amgen’s white blood cell-boosting product Neupogen, would increase access to an important treatment by offering a “high-quality, more affordable version”. Amgen, the United States, had tried to stop the sale of Zarxio, also known as filgrastim-sndz, but the Washington-based appeals court rejected its attempt to block the launch. The potential for copycats to take business from original biotech drug brands is increasingly grabbing investors’ attention; although uncertainties remain as to how quickly so-called biosimilars will win business.

Biosimilars have been on the market in Europe since 2006. However, the U.S. regulatory pathway for biosimilars, which are made in living cells and can never be exact replicas of originals, was only established by a healthcare reform in 2010. Amgen said it intended to compete effectively with the new product and would base promotion on its 24 years of clinical experience with Neupogen. According to Amgen, all biologics, including biosimilars, are highly complex molecules and each manufacturer’s product will be distinct. The arrival of biosimilars threatens companies heavily reliant on biotech drugs, such as Amgen, AbbVie and Roche, and Citigroup analysts have predicted a transfer of at least $110 billion of value from innovator companies to copycat producers in the next decade.
Source: http://www.reuters.com

IAVI, CureVac partner to develop AIDS vaccine

The non-profit International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) and biopharmaceutical company CureVac, Germany, have partnered to accelerate the development of AIDS vaccines, utilizing novel immunogens developed by IAVI and partners, delivered via CureVac’s novel messenger. HIV’s envelope protein or “trimer” is the primary target for antibodies that can neutralize a wide range of the virus’ strains, and which hold enormous promise in the quest for efficacious and broadly applicable AIDS vaccines. In a major breakthrough, researchers have recently designed immunogens that successfully mimic this trimer.

In this collaboration, IAVI has selected one of its leading HIV trimer constructs to launch the mRNA evaluation in small-scale clinical trials: mRNA that encodes for the chosen trimer mimic will be constructed using CureVac’s RNActive® technology and injected with the aim of stimulating the body to produce HIV trimer proteins and then related neutralizing antibodies. “To date, most AIDS vaccine candidates have been based on DNA, viral vectors or protein. Using mRNA could accelerate the development and testing of AIDS vaccine candidates. This collaboration could be a real game-changer,” said Wayne Koff, at IAVI.

The development of vaccines that can generate neutralizing antibodies against HIV is a top priority for IAVI and many other researchers. Researchers at IAVI’s Neutralizing Antibody Center at The Scripps Research Institute, the United States, and elsewhere have designed several novel immunogens that have the potential to elicit such antibodies. “We are excited to benefit from IAVI’s expertise in AIDS vaccine development, and its network and experience across the United States, Europe, Africa and India and to accelerate such development on the basis of our RNActive® technology,” said Ingmar Hoerr, at CureVac.
Source: http://www.biospectrumindia.com

GSK may get EU nod for new biotech asthma drug

GlaxoSmithKline, the United Kingdom, may get a green light from European regulators for a new biotech medicine to treat severe asthma, boosting prospects for its struggling respiratory business. A recommendation from the European Medicines Agency (EMA) would confirm the British drugmaker’s lead in a race to develop an injectable drug for patients with severe asthma who don’t respond well to traditional inhalers. GSK’s Nucala, or mepolizumab, is being assessed by experts according to an EMA agenda. Despite treatment advances in recent decades, asthma is still not well controlled in a significant minority of patients, creating what analysts believe is a multibillion-dollar opportunity for the new injections.

Rivals in the field include AstraZeneca, the United Kingdom, Roche, Switzerland, Teva, Israel, and Sanofi, France, but Eric Dube, head of GSK’s respiratory business, believes his company is around one year ahead of rivals. “Clearly there is a first-mover advantage here. However, we don’t have that much time to establish Nucala as the leader in severe asthma,” said Dube. Significantly, the new drugs offer a more personalized approach to asthma care, with patients undergoing so-called “biomarker” blood tests to check if they are likely to respond. This targeted approach is gaining traction in many medical fields, most notably cancer, and drugmakers hope it will be attractive to governments and insurers, since it means the drugs will only go to patients who are likely to benefit.

Biotech medicines like Nucala will not be cheap, since they are made from complex antibodies, though GSK is not giving any indication on cost before launch. GSK has been the leader in asthma since launching its Ventolin inhaler in 1969 but its core respiratory business is currently suffering, due to declining sales of top-seller Advair, while a successor inhaler, Breo, also had a recent setback. Nonetheless, Dube believes GSK will maintain its market-leading position in a global respiratory market that is growing by a modest 2 percent a year, although the shape of the business will be different in future.
Source: http://www.news.yahoo.com

Sanofi to launch new drugs in India

Sanofi, France, has planned to bring to India a raft of innovative products, including a preventive dengue vaccine and an injectable medicine to cut cholesterol, to bolster its prospects in the market. The $36-billion (about Rs 2,35,000 crore) firm is looking to build up on an armoury of six innovative drug introductions, a clear upswing from the ‘pipeline drought’ compounded by a ‘patent cliff ‘ that hit most Big Pharma revenues in the last few years. “The prevalence rate of dengue in India is a “classic example” of how the problem is under detected and poorly understood. By the end of 2015, we will have submitted the regulatory file for approval in 20 countries. In case India has an urgent need to arrest the problem, we will do everything we can to try and make the product available here,” said Suresh Kumar, at Sanofi.

Sanofi’s two-decade-long chase for a dengue vaccine involved investments of 1.5 billion (about Rs 10,700 crore) and clinical trials on more than 40,000 people. The other ace innovations Sanofi is expected to take up for registration include high-end biologics such as the recently approved Praluent that significantly cuts cholesterol; Toujeo, a long-acting insulin for diabetes; dupilumab for atopic dermatitis, which is in advanced stages of clinical trials; and sarilumab that is tested widely for treating rheumatoid arthritis. Sanofi hopes the new drugs, once commercially available, will bolster the company’s prospects over its rivals while providing new and more effective treatment options for patients.
Source: http://www.economictimes.indiatimes.com

ICAR signs a strategic tie up with SABC

The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the South Asia Biotechnology Centre (SABC) to accelerate the deployment of public bred genetically engineered crops in India. The MOU was signed by Dr. S. Ayyappan, DG ICAR & Secretary DARE and Dr. C.D. Mayee, founder director of SABC, coinciding the executive council meeting of the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences (NAAS). The ICAR and SABC will work jointly to create an independent platform to support technology assessment and deployment, biosafety and regulatory approval and outreach activities of biotech products developed through national agricultural research system.

Dr. S. Ayyappan lauded the efforts and expressed hopes that the collaboration would improve understanding of the regulatory science protocols and guidelines of biotech products which is crucial for taking biotechnology from lab to land through a multi-layer regulatory system involving different ministries in India. He further emphasized that “Translating biotech research by ICAR into ultimate products is a key challenge for our scientific community. Regulatory science and biosafety assessment studies assume a great significance to navigate through the regulatory system”. Dr. Mayee termed the MOU as a historic milestone in taking biotech products to farming community.
Source: http://www.icar.org.in

GENOMICS

Scientists create genetic design of inner ear cell

Using a sensitive new technology, scientists from US National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), have created the first high-resolution gene expression map of the newborn mouse inner ear. The findings provide new insight into how hair cells and supporting cells in the inner ear develop and differentiate into specialized cells that serve critical functions for hearing and maintaining balance. Understanding how these important cells form may provide a foundation for the potential development of cell-based therapies for treating hearing loss and balance disorders.

“Age-related hearing loss occurs gradually in most of us as we grow older. It is one of the most common conditions among older adults, affecting half of people over age 75,” said James F. Battey, at NIDCD. Hair cells and supporting cells can be damaged by medications, infections or disease, injury and ageing, leading to hearing loss and balance problems. In humans, these cells cannot naturally repair themselves, so effective treatments are limited. To gain a better understanding of inner ear cell development, the team used single-cell RNA-seq – a new technology that can extract comprehensive gene activity data from just one cell.

The team analyzed 301 cells – some hair cells and some supporting cells – taken from the cochlea and utricle of newborn mice. By comparing the cells’ gene activity profiles, the researchers found unique patterns in hair cells and supporting cells. The data also allowed the scientists to identify distinct developmental patterns of gene activity. By analyzing the cells’ gene activity profiles, the scientists were able to identify genes that are active at each stage of development, bringing to light important clues about how the specialized hair cells are formed. Identifying the gene expression maps for the development of inner ear cells is essential to understanding how they form, and may help scientists create ways to regenerate these cells.
Source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com

New technique to make dogs more stronger

Scientists from Guangzhou Institutes of Biomedicine and Health (GIBH), China, have used a gene-editing technique to produce the world’s first genetically engineered pooches. Although these two endeavors share scientific roots, with their production aimed at assisting medical research, unlike the teeny tiny pigs, the researchers behind this latest project are not intending to sell their customized animals as pets. So it probably won’t come as a surprise that the dogs weren’t engineered to be cuter, fluffier or more pocket-sized: they had their DNA tweaked to make them more muscly. The first of many potential edits the team would like to carry out, this was done with the forces in mind.

With greater muscle mass, the dogs “are expected to have a stronger running ability, which is good for hunting, police (military) applications,” Liangxue Lai at GIBH. Later on down the line, the scientists would like to manipulate the dog genome in order to mimic human diseases, which could better our understanding and treatment of certain conditions. “Dogs exhibit close similarities to humans in terms of metabolic, physiological, and anatomical characteristics,” the researchers wrote in the Journal of Molecular Cell Biology, “and thus are ideal genetic and clinical models to study human diseases.”

The term “gene-editing” may ring alarm bells in many, but the technique used – CRISPR-Cas9 – is remarkably precise, cheap and efficient, and it’s already widely used in scientific research. While this work was done with a more noble cause in mind, aiding scientific research, the authors do wrote in the paper that the technique could also be used to create dogs with favorable traits for other purposes, although this doesn’t necessarily mean pets. The ethics of creating designer companion dogs could be argued, but it’s not really that different to what humans have been doing with the species for thousands of years anyway, albeit this method significantly cuts corners.
Source: http://www.iflscience.com

Researchers uncover a novel link

According to a research done by University of Sussex, the United Kingdom, a small molecule in cells that was previously believed to have no impact on animal behaviour could in fact be responsible for controlling precise movements. The team led by Dr. Claudio Alonso, found that fruit flies had difficulty in righting themselves when placed upside down after changes were made to tiny pieces of their genetic material encoding microRNAs (miRNAs). MiRNAs are molecules encoded in the genome of all animals, including humans that regulate the activity of individual genes. MiRNAs have been shown to affect the formation of the nervous system, but the Sussex-led research is the first to show that they might also have very specific roles in controlling certain movements.

“We know very little about how simple movements are encoded in the genome. Yet, the survival of all animals including humans strongly depends on our ability to perform simple movements since the moment of birth, such as primitive reflexes essential for feeding. This knowledge might in the long-term contribute to the understanding of the underlying mechanisms of human disorders of the nervous system that lead to loss of movement coordination, such as Parkinson’s disease,” said Dr. Alonso, at School of Life sciences, the United Kingdom.

The researchers had originally tried ‘switching off’ individual microRNA molecules to investigate how this affected the formation of fruit flies’ nervous systems. When they found no apparent effects on the structure of the nervous system of fruit flies lacking the miRNA, they instead investigated whether the nervous system ‘worked’ properly. This was when they discovered that fruit flies lacking a specific miRNA could not correct their position when placed upside down. Dr Alonso and his team are now turning their attention to whether different miRNA molecules could be responsible for other movements both in the fruit fly and in other organisms.
Source: http://www.phys.org

Scientists predict the human genome using evolution

Professor Sudhir Kumar and colleagues from Temple University, the United States, have developed a new approach to gain a clearer picture of health and disease, by providing an independent reference for all human variation by looking through the evolutionary lens of our nearest relatives. “There are two ways to generate a map of the human genome variation: one is to get genomes of all the humans and build a compilation as the 1,000 Genomes Project and others have undertaken. The alternative, which is the basis of our approach, is to compile all genome data from other species and predict what the human sequence reference should be,” said Kumar.

By observing evolution’s “greatest hits” (and misses) and the history of the major themes and patterns of genome conservation (and divergence) across many species, Kumar’s approach predicts probable mutations that will be found among people and the fate of human variation. His research team relied on an evolutionary tree that included 46 vertebrate species spanning over 500 million years of life on Earth to predict the evolutionary probability (EP) of each possibility at each position of our genome. They applied their new method on all protein-coding genes in the human genome (more than 10 million positions).

Next, they produced a complete evolutionary catalog of all human protein variation, or evolutionary variome (eVar), that can be used to better understand human diseases and adaptations. And, it can be directly applied to the genomes of any other species. Lastly, they found a large number (36,691) of variations, that according to the EP data were evolutionarily improbable (EP less than 0.05), but were found 100 percent of the time in the 1,000 Genomes Project data, which could be strong candidates for adaptive evolution and what may make us uniquely human.
Source: http://www.eurekalert.org

New way to edit genes

In a study researchers from Washington State University, the United States, have provided evidence that tapping into the cell’s homologous recombination repair pathway is a much more efficient and precise way to go about it. “This new method is an improvement because it can be used not just to disrupt a gene, but also to insert new information into a specific site in the genome,” said Annalisa VanHook, web editor of Science Signaling, the United States.

Indeed, in addition to transfecting T cells with mRNA nucleases, the researchers also delivered a repair template that coded for gene they wanted to knock-in. “That gene is flanked by sequences that match the target gene. So we get seamless integration of our gene,” explained Guillermo Romano Ibarra of Seattle Children’s Research Institute, the United States.

The group demonstrated the success of their technique first using a reporter gene, and then with gene cassettes with therapeutic relevance, such as rewriting the CCR5 gene to encode a receptor that protects T cells from HIV infection. The study offers a new approach to genetically engineering T cells to combat HIV and potentially other diseases like cancer.
Source: http://www.the-scientist.com

PROTEOMICS

Proteomics marks traction on a global scale

Biotech company Proteomics International Laboratories (PIQ), Australia, is pressing forward with multiple major upside opportunities as a key health test internationalises and an options issue unfolds. The company’s proteomics-based technology platform is developing next-generation diagnostic tests based on differences in the protein make-up of people with and without a particular disease. The method can be applied to allow for personalised medicine treatments or to improve agricultural results. The Company is also rewarding shareholders with a ‘loyalty options’ issue this month, with the issue fully underwritten and raising A$126,450.

Other signs of traction have included the signing of a protein analysing contract in April with a $330 million Australian milk company and steady development of PIQ’s flagship product: a ground breaking predictive test for the diagnosis of diabetic kidney disease (DKD). Marketability of PromarkerD is supported by growing rates of DKD and the fact that there is currently no available test for predicting the onset of the disease. “The current gold standard urine-based test for DKD is not robust, with results differing simply by taking a walk around the block before being tested,” said Dr Richard Lipscombe, at PIQ.

Critically, PromarkerD differs in that it also offers a prognostic (predictive) test. PromarkerD’s capacity to generate cash via licensing fees, upfront payments and royalties is strengthened by a diversified range of commercialisation options in various niche diagnostic test applications. Avenues for monetising the technology have been identified in a range of medical applications, including specialist diagnostic tests run by clinical laboratories, clinical pathology tests produced by diagnostic companies and companion diagnostic tests used to monitor a patient’s response to drug therapy. PIQ is in a strong position regarding commercialising this intellectual property, with patents pending in major jurisdictions for PromarkerD.
Source: http://www.proactiveinvestors.com.au

Scientists discover new RNA molecules

Scientists from the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) have discovered how RNA molecules regulate the structure of the nucleolus and drive the synthesis of the cellular machinery needed for protein production. When cells grow and divide rapidly, they need to run up the production of proteins. The cellular machinery for this task is synthesized and assembled in a special compartment of the cell nucleus called the nucleolus. The nucleolus constantly adapts its shape if the cell needs to produce more or less protein. Accordingly, fast dividing tumor cells often have bigger nucleoli.

Scientists found a novel mechanism that sheds light on how the nucleolus is able to change its structure as needed. Cells have to continually tune their metabolism in response to signals from their environment. To cope with this need, the nucleolus has a very dynamic structure. It becomes bigger if cells’ metabolism is high, as it is the case for cancer cells that grow and spread very rapidly. On the other hand, structural aberrations and decreased activity of the nucleolus are found in starving cells or in association with heart disease and neurological disorders. Thus, it reflects the cell’s condition and acts as a central hub for integrating and responding to external and cellular signals. In extreme cases, stress stimuli applied to the nucleolus can lead to cell death.

This characteristic is currently exploited to develop therapeutic treatments, which target the nucleolus, to block highly proliferating cancer cells. The scientists observed that inhibiting the production of RNAs coding for proteins, the messenger RNAs, completely shattered the nucleolus into small pieces. By sequencing the RNA content of nucleoli, they identified parts of messenger RNAs that were needed for keeping the structure intact. This RNA type, called aluRNA, originated from what was previously thought to be a useless by-product of messenger RNA synthesis. The aluRNA binds to certain proteins and, like a glue, keeps together the parts of the genome that associate within the nucleolus.
Source: http://www.research-in-germany.org

Researchers develop proteins tweaking technique

Researchers from Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU), Germany, have developed a rapid and efficient technique for targeted chemoenzymatic functionalization of proteins. The new method has a wide range of potential therapeutic applications. Selective intermolecular recognition is at the heart of all biological processes. Thus proteins that bind specifically to complementary chemical structures are also indispensable for many biochemical and biotechnological applications. Targeted modification of such proteins therefore plays a significant role in medical diagnostics and therapies.

Led by Professor Heinrich Leonhardt at LMU and Professor Christian Hackenberger of the Leibniz Institute for Molecular Pharmacology (FMP), Germany, have developed a new strategy that permits specific chemical modification of virtually any protein more rapidly and more efficiently than was hitherto possible. Many of the methods routinely used in the biosciences are based on the specific modification of proteins, in particular antibodies, to endow them with novel properties for specific purposes. For example, chemotherapeutic agents used in the treatment of cancer are often chemically linked to antibodies that recognize antigens found only on the surface of the target tumor.

In this way, the cytoxic drug can be delivered directly to the cells it is intended to eradicate. Ideally, the methods used to introduce such modifications should be as specific, efficient and versatile as possible. Unfortunately, the techniques currently in use fulfill these criteria only in part. The new method is the first to make use of the enzyme tubulin-tyrosine ligase (TTL) and its target sequence. TTL binds to a short amino-acid sequence found in its natural target the cytoskeletal protein tubulin and adds the amino-acid tyrosine to its C-terminal end. The researchers therefore refer to this guide sequence as ‘the Tub-tag’.
Source: http://www.eurekalert.org

SCIEX to develop new R&D centre

SCIEX, the United States, a global leader in life science analytical technologies, has announced that the University of Manchester, the United Kingdom, has invested in a large suite of high-end SCIEX mass spectrometers for targeted and next-generation proteomics for its new Stoller Biomarker Discovery Centre. With SCIEX’s SWATH® Acquisition technologies, the Centre will be one of the biggest clinical proteomics facilities in the world. It will focus on industrializing proteomics research, and spearhead a series of biomarker development projects and international collaborations.

The new center, expected to open in mid-2016, will include SCIEX scientists working in partnership with University researchers to develop and trial new omics workflows in a real-world setting. Adverse drug reactions (ADR) are estimated to be the fourth leading cause of death in the US – ahead of pulmonary disease, diabetes, AIDS, pneumonia, accidents and automobile deaths.

University’s new research center will rely on SCIEX’s TripleTOF® 6600 Systems with SWATH Acquisition for highly reproducible and large-scale biomarker discovery and validation. The University of Manchester has also invested in a number of SCIEX QTRAP® 6500 Systems that will allow its researchers to quickly convert the novel biomarker discoveries into routine MRM-based targeted proteomics assays, rather than spending many months generating antibody-based immunoassays. To support the industrialization of proteomics, the University of Manchester is also investing in a number of liquid chromatography and automated sample preparation components for the Stoller Biomarker Discovery Centre.
Source: http://www.businesswire.com

New protein manufacturing process unveiled

Researchers from Northwestern University, the United States, and Yale University, the United States, have developed a user-friendly technology to help scientists understand how proteins work and fix them when they are broken. Such knowledge could pave the way for new drugs for a myriad of diseases, including cancer. The human body has a nifty way of turning its proteins on and off to alter their function and activity in cells: phosphorylation, the reversible attachment of phosphate groups to proteins. These “decorations” on proteins provide an enormous variety of function and are essential to all forms of life. Little is known, however, about how this dynamic process works in humans.

Using a special strain of E. coli bacteria, the researchers have built a cell-free protein synthesis platform technology that can manufacture large quantities of these human phosphoproteins for scientific study. This will enable scientists to learn more about the function and structure of phosphoproteins and identify which ones are involved in disease. “This innovation will help advance the understanding of human biochemistry and physiology,” said Michael C. Jewett, at Northwestern. The study has been published in the journal Nature Communications.

Jewett and his colleagues combined state-of-the-art genome engineering tools and engineered biological “parts” into a “plug-and-play” protein expression platform that is cell-free. Cell-free systems activate complex biological systems without using living intact cells. Crude cell lysates, or extracts, are employed instead. Specifically, the researchers prepared cell lysates of genomically recoded bacteria that incorporate amino acids not found in nature. This allowed them to harness the cell’s engineered machinery and turn it into a factory, capable of on-demand bio manufacturing new classes of proteins.
Source: http://www.nanowerk.com

MEDICAL BIOTECH

New discovery to develop antibiotics

The scientists at the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), India, have identified a potential area where new antibiotics can be developed. The identification of “potential drug target” by CCMB scientist Manjula Reddy and her team assumes importance as the drug-resistance in bacteria is increasing worldwide and development of new antibiotics is declining over the years. “If we have to increase the size of a room, we have to break the walls and put new bricks. Likewise, bacteria are covered with a cell wall. The cell wall is made with something called peptidoglycan. If the cell has to increase in size, it has to break what is there earlier and put new pieces. If it cannot break, cell wall cannot grow,” said Ch Mohan Rao, at CCMB.

The study has been published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The CCMB scientists have also made a critical discovery in meiosis, Rao said. Meiosis is a special form of cell division that splits genome in two, so that chromosome number is maintained in the embryo after fertilisation. Errors in meiosis cause infertility and birth defects. They account for a majority of congenital birth defects. In plants, meiosis can be bypassed to produce clonal seeds by apomixes (an asexual mode of seed formation), which would be of immense agricultural and economical importance if engineered in crops. Using the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana, the CCMB scientists identified a gene called DUET as the first known regulator of meiotic gene expression in plants.
Source: http://www.thehansindia.com

Hair stem cells to repair damaged nerves

Scientists from Newcastle University, the United Kingdom, have successfully converted stem cells into large quantities of Schwann cells, which are a type of cell used in nerve repair. When peripheral nerves – those outside the brain and spinal column – are damaged, they can be treated using grafts taken from nerves elsewhere in the body. “Many people sustain peripheral nerve injuries – in the arms, legs, and torso. If it is a small injury they can sew together two stumps of the nerve and it regenerates. If it is a large injury, the gap needs to be bridged,” said Professor Maya Sieber-Blum at Newcastle University.

That injures the donor nerve so you perpetuate the injury,” said Sieber-Blum. Along with her colleagues, Sieber-Blum demonstrated that the hair follicle can instead be a source of stem cells that can then be cultured in their millions and converted into a homogenous population of nerve repair cells. The next step will be to create a scaffolding on which these cells can then grow nerves – to bridge the gap between damaged parts – and see if the technique works in the body.
Source: http://www.business-standard.com

New vaccine against chronic hepatitis B

A new vaccine developed by researchers of the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (CIGB), Cuba, called ‘HeberNasvac’ for the treatment of chronic hepatitis B is currently undergoing clinical trials in Cuba and other eight Asian countries, with the cooperation of Abivax, France. The new product that is administered nasally and subcutaneously, has proved to be more effective and safer than the rest of those existing in the world today against the illness.

Studies of clinical evaluation have been approved by regulatory authorities in Australia, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong , the Philippines and Thailand. Also, the promising vaccine is supported by patents granted in the most demanding markets and has more than 20 scientific publications by Cuban experts with the cooperation of the Ehime University, Japan; the Society for the Study of the Liver, Bangladesh; the Pasteur Institute of France; and the University of Hanover, Germany.

It is expected to begin to be used in Cuba in 2016, after obtaining the approval of the sanitary registration granted by the Center for State Control of Medicaments, Equipment and Medical Devices (CECMED). According to the World Health Organization, chronic liver disease caused by the hepatitis B virus is one of the main causes of liver cancer, liver cirrhosis, and other complications such as esophageal varicose veins. Each year there are on the planet about one million deaths related to infection by this virus.
Source: http://www.cubanews.ain.cu

Researchers use DNA to engineer tiny human tissue

A team led by the University of California San Francisco (UCSF), the United States, has developed a technique to build tiny models of human tissues, called organoids, more precisely than ever before. These mini-tissues in a dish can be used to study how particular structural features of tissue affect normal growth or go awry in cancer. They could be used for therapeutic drug screening and to help teach researchers how to grow whole human organs. The new technique called DNA Programmed Assembly of Cells) allows researchers to create arrays of thousands of custom-designed organoids, such as models of mammary glands containing several hundred cells each, which can be built within hours.

Studying how the cells of complex tissues like the mammary gland self-organise, make decisions as groups, and break down in disease has been a challenge to researchers. The living organism is often too complex to identify the specific causes of a particular cellular behavior. On the other hand, cells in a dish lack the critical element of realistic 3-D structure.

To specify the 3-D structure of their organoids, the researchers incubate cells with tiny snippets of single-stranded DNA engineered to slip into the cells’ outer membranes, covering each cell like the hairs on atennis ball. These DNA strands act both as a sort of molecular Velcro and as a bar code that specifies where each cell belongs within the organoid. When two cells incubated with complementary DNA strands come in contact, they stick fast. If the DNA sequences don’t match, the cells float on by. To turn these cellular LEGOs into arrays of organoids, the team lays down the cells in layers, with multiple sets of cells designed to stick to particular partners.
Source: http://www.mumbaimirror.com

New therapeutic avenues for treating TB

In a new study, a group of scientists led by Prof. Amitabha Chattopadhyay of Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), India, have found that depletion of cholesterol content in host cell membrane results in significant reduction in the entry of Mycobacterium smegmatis into the host cell. The most important and novel finding of the study was that infection was restored when cholesterol was put back to normal levels in the human cell membranes. During the study, which was carried out in collaboration with Dr. Tirumalai Raghunand’s group from the same institute, scientists have used human host cells and injected laboratory strain of Mycobacterium into them.

They found that cholesterol was depleted when the cells were treated with methyl-beta cyclodextrin for about 30 minutes. The results were recently published in the journal Chemistry and Physics of Lipids. Interestingly, they found that infection was back when cholesterol was replenished to normal levels, indicating that the finding was specific to pathogenic Mycobacterium.

In control experiments with non-pathogenic E. coli, the researchers found that its entry levels remained unaffected by depletion of cholesterol. Explaining the advantage of this approach for future therapeutic applications, Prof. Chattopadhyay said the focus would be on treating the host and not the parasite and this would naturally help in overcoming the problem of drug resistance. He said further studies would be carried out in animal models and eventually CCMB might look to collaborate with another institution for conducting clinical studies.
Source: http://www.thehindu.com

First trial of umbilical cord stem cells to cure HIV

The world’s first clinical trial which aims to cure five HIV patients within three years using transplants of blood from umbilical cords has started at National Organisation of Transplants (ONT), Spain. The project seeks to be the world’s first clinical trial of its kind by recreating the success of Timothy Ray Brown – the only living person ever to be completely cured of HIV, known as “the Berlin patient”. ONT has selected 157 donors that have a genetic mutation which allows them to resist HIV.

“The Berlin patient”, Brown, was an HIV-positive American living in Berlin in 2006 when he was diagnosed with leukemia. He needed a transplant to treat the cancer, so his doctor decided to use a donor with a certain cellular mutation that is resistant to HIV. After Brown received two stem cell transplants from the donor’s bone marrow, his levels of HIV decreased dramatically. He is now cancer-free and only traces of the virus can found, but they cannot reproduce.

Doctors last year said they successfully performed a similar procedure on a man in Barcelona with lymphoma, but he died of the cancer not long after and they were unable to verify whether the disappearance of the virus was long-term. To see if Brown’s and the Barcelona patient’s cases can be replicated, the ONT project will look for HIV patients who also have leukemia, lymphoma, or similar illnesses. The treatment will be more similar to that of the Barcelona patient because doctors will transplant umbilical cord blood into the patients, rather than Brown’s stem cell transplant procedure.
Source: http://www.ndtv.com

AGRI BIOTECH

China to improve biotech approval process

China has agreed to improve an agricultural biotechnology approval process that U.S. industry officials say has left a number of new products in limbo. U.S. industry officials are looking for China to accelerate final import approvals for seven biotech traits and to speed up consideration of other genetically engineered crops in the pipeline. Officials from the Agriculture Department and the Chinese agriculture ministry discussed the issue in a meeting called the ‘Strategic Agriculture Innovation Dialogue’. The White House fact sheet said the two countries “committed to further improve” the approval process. Both sides reaffirmed the importance of implementing timely, transparent, predictable, and science-based approval processes for products of agricultural biotechnology, which are based on international standards.

Matt O’Mara, with the Biotechnology Industry Organization, praised the administration’s work in winning the commitment, which he called “an important first step.” He cautioned that streamlining China’s approval process is still likely to be “a long-term process.” However, USDA officials declined comment on the fact sheet. “I’ve expressed both publicly and privately for the need for China to create a science-based, rules-based, consistent regulatory system that’s better coordinated and synchronized with our system and the system that is followed by other countries that are trading in and raising genetically modified crops,” said U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
Source: http://www.agri-pulse.com

First GMO corn crops in Viet Nam

According to a news report, genetically-modified (GM) corn varieties are likely to make a full scale invasion of the Vietnamese market soon as both farmers and traders are happy with high yields and potentially bigger profits. A representative of DeKalb, the United States, a company that sells GM seeds in Viet Nam, said his firm has started to sell seeds imported from South Africa to 800,000 corn farmers. DeKalb and Syngenta, Switzerland, will provide technical support for farmers planting GM seeds on 12-15 percent of their corn fields next year and aim to raise the rate to 50 percent in the next five years.

Farmers are assured that the robust strains can save them VND2-3 million (US$90-134) in pesticide costs per hectare per year and their crops would sell for VND190,000 a kilogram, more than twice the current VND80,000. Farmers receiving free seeds for trial cultivation have expressed confidence. Corn fields using Syngenta GM seeds in the northern province of Son La and the southern provinces of Ba Ria-Vung Tau and Dong Nai near Ho Chi Minh City have seen yields rise by 10-30 percent and profits by VND5-10 million per hectare.
Source: http://www.thanhniennews.com

GM plants could eliminate food poisoning

A team of scientists from Nomad Bioscience, Germany, and Icon Genetics, Germany, have announced a new strategy for combating foodborne disease. Their method involves genetically engineering plants to produce antimicrobial proteins, which can then be extracted and applied to contaminated meat and produce. In a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the scientists engineered tobacco, leafy beets, spinach, chicory and lettuce to produce proteins called colicins, which can kill deadly strains of E. coli. The team found that plants such as tobacco can yield high levels of active colicins. Furthermore, they identified a mixture of two colicins that can efficiently kill all major disease-causing strains of E. coli.

“All of the food outbreaks that have been recorded in the last 15 years or so could have been controlled very well by a combination of just two colicins, applied at very low concentrations. Colicins are 50 times more active against bacteria than normal antibiotics,” said Yuri Gleba, at Nomad Bioscience. In the United States, nearly 300,000 E. coli infections occur each year, mainly through consumption of contaminated food. Most E. coli in food is found in contaminated beef and pork, but an increasing number of E. coli infections have been linked to organic produce, which is typically treated with animal manure in place of chemical fertilizers. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), up to 10 percent of E. coli infections could lead to life-threatening disease.

Colicins are proteins naturally produced by E. coli strains to kill or inhibit the growth of competing E. coli strains. The proteins are extremely toxic – so toxic, in fact, that engineering microbes to produce colicins usually ends up killing the hosts. To circumvent that problem, the study’s authors decided to engineer plants, since colicins are not as toxic to plant cells. They were successful at getting various plants to express large amounts of twelve different types of colicins – all of which were compositionally identical to colicins found naturally in E. coli. The team aims to get FDA approval of their process through a pathway called “generally recognized as safe,” or GRAS.
Source: http://www.popsci.com

USAID grant to improve potato production

The U.S. Agency for International Development has awarded Michigan State University (MSU), the United States, a $5.8 million cooperative agreement to improve potato production in Bangladesh and Indonesia. The grant supports USAID’s work under Feed the Future, the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security initiative. As part of this project, MSU will partner with the University of Minnesota (U of M), the United States, and J.R. Simplot Comp., the United States, along with in-country partners in both Bangladesh and Indonesia, to make improved potato varieties available to smallholder farmers. Such varieties can help protect against yield loss and improve livelihoods for those who depend on the crop to survive.

“Genetically engineered crops are among the technologies with potential to increase agricultural productivity, benefiting livelihoods of both small-scale and commercial farmers, while reducing inputs and environmental impacts,” said Dave Douches, at MSU. Late blight, the disease responsible for the historic Irish potato famine, is caused by a fungus-like pathogen and still has the potential to wreak havoc on today’s potato and tomato crops. To fight the disease, and subsequently increase Bangladesh’s and Indonesia’s food security, the researchers will work with in-country partners to assess the validity of genetically engineered varieties, along with other approaches such as conventional fungicides, to develop the most-sustainable approach to maintain this important crop.

“This partnership combines MSU’s biotechnology pathology and potato breeding skills and the public sector regulatory skills from the U of M with the product development, commercialization and regulatory skills of J.R. Simplot Co. This, combined with the agricultural expertise of the in-county partner institutions, provides a public-private partnership that is aptly positioned to deliver a potato that’s resistant to late blight,” said Douches. Feed the Future is the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security initiative. With a focus on smallholder farmers, particularly women, Feed the Future supports partner countries in developing their agriculture sectors to spur economic growth and trade that increase incomes and reduce hunger, poverty and under nutrition.
Source: http://www.msutoday.msu.edu

Scientists discover new species of wild mushrooms

Scientists from the Botanical Survey of India (BSI) have found these species from North Sikkim particularly in the subalpine region dominated by coniferous trees. Of these nine species, four belong to the genus Lactarius, whose characteristics are that they exude latex in large quantity and are commonly known as milk-caps. “These new species of fungi are mushrooms, seasonal in nature growing in different times particularly during the rainy season. These species were established after undertaking extensive and intensive field explorations followed by thorough micro-morphological studies and molecular systematics of the species,” said Kanad Das, at BSI.

Mr. Das, along with his team, has taken at least four survey tours to Sikkim to discover these species. Among the species discovered Canthrellus sikkimensis is edible. This species is tall and slim and interestingly is being consumed by locals. “What is unique about this species of Canthrellus is that they are more than double the size of other species of the genus reported from Indian subcontinent. While other species of the genus is about 3-4 inches high this species is about six to seven inches high,” said Mr. Das.

“Fungi (including mushrooms) play a very important role in the growth and development of forests, as food, in industry and even in medicines like antibiotics. The discovery of new species can open new avenues for research and enhance availability of new food,” Paramjit Singh at BSI. So far about 2,000 species of mushrooms have been discovered from India. Across the world about 12,000 to 15000 species of mushrooms (small representative of Fungi) are found. It is believed that there are 5.1 million species of fungi are expected to be found in the world of which 1.03 lakh species are so far identified and reported from the world.
Source: http://www.thehindu.com

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For the above two publications, contact: Springer (India) Private Ltd., 7th Floor, Vijaya Building, 17, Barakhamba Road, New Delhi 110001, India. Tel: +91-11-4575-5888; E-mail: customersupport.india@springer.com

3D Bioprinting and Nanotechnology in Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine

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Contact: Elsevier Health, Reed Elsevier India Pvt. Ltd., 306, Centre Point, Andheri Kurla Road, J.B. Nagar, Andheri (E), Mumbai (Maharashtra) – 400059, India. Tel: +91-22-66430975


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