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Category Archives: Genetic Engineering

WIRED25: Stories of People Who Are Racing to Save Us – WIRED

Posted: October 16, 2019 at 5:40 pm

Galperin and her team focus on protecting the activists, dissidents, lawyers, journalists, and civilians who find themselves in an increasingly lopsided conflict with entities that hack, surveil, and sabotage themor better yet, equipping them to protect themselves. I think that empowering people to confront power is good, she says. Thats how change happens.

In part, Galperin aims to create tools that level the playing field for surveillance victims. In its first months, for instance, the Threat Labs tiny team of three full-time staffers has been building a device to detect a common form of police surveillance: fake LTE cell towers that trick phones into connecting to them, enabling police to pinpoint the location and track the identities of protesters and other surveillance targets.

The Threat Lab also does detective work to expose perpetrators of state-sponsored surveillance. For years, even before the teams creation, Galperin and fellow EFF researcher Cooper Quintin investigated a hacking operation that planted spyware on the computers of journalists and opposition figures in Kazakhstan. Working with the mobile security firm Lookout, Galperins team found that some of the same toolsperhaps made by the same for-hire hackerswere being used in a massive campaign to spy on civilian targets in Lebanon. At one point during that investigation, the EFF had a researcher walk the streets of Beirut with a smartphone to find the Wi-Fi network theyd linked with the hackers. The researcher discovered it was emanating from inside the headquarters of the Lebanese General Security Directorate.

The EFF had a researcher walk the streets of Beirut with a smartphone to find the hackers Wi-Fi network. It was emanating from inside the headquarters of the Lebanese General Security Directorate.

Galperins own obsession is the scourge known as spouseware, or stalkerware: hidden apps installed on a smartphone by someone with physical access to the deviceoften a domestic abuserthat let them spy on the phones owner. Since early 2018, Galperin has offered her services as a kind of first responder, security consultant, and therapist for stalkerware victims.

But Galperin wasnt satisfied with the scale of that hands-on approach. So she began shaming and pressuring the antivirus industry, which has long neglected stalkerware, to take it far more seriously. Several companies have since pledged to catalog and eradicate the apps just as thoroughly as they do traditional malware. Stalkerware is considered beneath the interest of most security researchers, Galperin says. Changing norms takes time. But it starts with someone standing up and saying This is not OK, this is not acceptablethis is spying.

Galperin, who has silvery-violet hair and a cyberpunk aesthetic, got her start as a systems administrator, attending security conferences and being treated, she says, like some hackers girlfriend who looks after Solaris boxes. In 2007 she joined the EFF, where her first job was to answer the 50-plus calls and emails that came in every day from people seeking help. The organization had recently filed a lawsuit against AT&T for aiding warrantless NSA spying, and Galperin was flooded with messages from people who had been targeted for surveillance. Her desk became a kind of security crisis hotline.

According to Danny OBrien, Galperins former boss at the EFF, the experience gave her a strong sense of the victims perspectivesomething thats often overlooked by the cybersecurity research community, which tends to focus more on sexy new hacking techniques than on the people who suffer from their use. Eva isnt afraid to plot out the consequences of hackers actions, OBrien says, to stare those consequences down until the problem is solved.

Shes also good at plotting out, and maximizing, the consequences of her own actions. Galperin says she has no illusions that she or her small team alone can tip the balance of security for vulnerable people worldwide. But in line with the EFFs longtime tactic of choosing cases that can set legal precedents, she says she chooses projects that promise to have cascading effects, that will force the industry to change its priorities or inspire other researchers. You figure out the place where you need to push, she says, not just to help the people you help every day, the individuals, but to change the game. To change the system. Andy Greenberg

FOUNDER & CEO / Rigetti Computing

In 2013, Chad Rigetti became aware that the field of quantum computing was entering a kind of adolescence. Sketched out in the 1990s, the technology was supposed to leapfrog conventional computing by tapping into the weird physics of subatomic particles. For years, researchers had been held up by the devilish unreliability of qubits, the devices needed to perform quantum manipulations on data. But now, finally, they were finding new ways to tame them. It was black magic, and then a framework emerged, Rigetti says. You could start to see all the pieces coming together. Thats when he quit his job at IBM and struck out on his own. Six years later, in labs stocked with steampunky equipment and liquid helium, Rigetti Computing is manufacturing small quantum processors.

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Gene Expression Market to Reach USD 11.37 Billion by 2026 | Reports and Data – Yahoo Finance

Posted: at 5:40 pm

Gene Expression Market Size - USD 6.05 Billion in 2018, Market Growth - CAGR of 8.1%. Gene Expression industry Trends - Product launches and application of new techniques like NGS and DNA micro-arrays

NEW YORK, Oct. 14, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- According to the current analysis of Reports and Data, the Global Gene Expression market is expected to reach USD 11.37 billion by the year 2026, in terms of value at a CAGR of 8.1% from 2019-2026. Gene expression promises to tap into a previously unexplored segment in the vast and burgeoning genetic engineering industry. Gene expression is the process by which the genetic code - the nucleotide sequence - of a gene is used to direct protein synthesis and produce the structures of a cell. It is the process by which instructions in the DNA are converted into a functional product like protein. The commercial applications of gene expression have been studied and researched upon extensively in recent years. Many diverse and wide ranging applications have been found for this novel technique. With the increased availability and lowering costs of DNA technologies, gene expression has become a more readily used tool indispensable in drug discovery and development.

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Increase in investments in the market, which are supporting the technological advancements, and rise in healthcare expenditure are estimated to shape the growth of the gene expression market. Drug discovery & development and increase in demand for personalized medicine in chronic diseases such as cancer will be observed as the most lucrative applications for gene expression analysis in the forecast period. Application of gene expression in clinical diagnostics, on the other hand, will reflect a moderate growth throughout the analysis period. Moreover, the falling costs of sequencing have facilitated the integration of genomic sequencing into medicine. With the increased availability and lowering costs of DNA technologies, gene expression has become a more readily used tool indispensable in drug discovery and development. Many companies and educational institutions are collaborating to make gene expression publicly accessible through databases such as the Connectivity Map (CMap), Library of Integrated Network-based Cellular Signatures (LINCS) and the Tox 21 project.

New product development has been the consistent strategy undertaken by majority of the players to expand their product portfolio for serving a larger consumer base. For example, in September 2019, Qiagen N.V., launched the newly enhanced GeneGlobe Design & Analysis Hub, which integrates the company's manually curated knowledge base on over 10,000 biological entities with the industry's most comprehensive portfolio of tools for next-generation sequencing (NGS), polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and functional analysis. Other companies like Thermo Fisher Scientific and Illumina Inc. have launched new products in the last few months which are being used in the gene expression market.

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Artificial Wombs Could Help Save Millions of Premature Babies Within the Next Decade – News18

Posted: at 5:40 pm

Dutch scientists are on the verge of a breakthrough. They predict that within a decade, they will be able to create a working prototype of an artificial womb, something that could save the lives of millions of babies who die due to the premature births.

Researchers at the Eindhoven University of Technology in Netherlands have been given a 2.6m grant to work on the development of a prototype for artificial wombs that could be used in clinics. Artificial wombs could help reduce complications and even save a prematurely born baby's life by acting as a replacement womb that could allow the fetus to complete full gestation period.

The external womb does so by simulating conditions naturally present withing a womb using a faux placenta that is connected to the fetus's umbilical chord.

Why is this important?

According to accepted norms, any birth that occurs before the 37th week of pregnancy is considered premature. At present, about a million babies across the world die because of premature of birth, The Guardian reported. Even the ones who survive incur a range of medical difficulties and disabilities.

As per data collected by Tommy's, a UK-based not-for profit organisation that funds prenatal and neonatal research, babies born at 22 weeks of gestation have just a 10 percent chance of surviving. However, in just two weeks of added gestation, chances of survival shoot up to 6- percent.

External, artificial wombs could be extremely useful in such cases as they could provide almost perfect natural, womb-like conditions and allow a fetus to get adequate oxygen and nutrients through the umbilical chord. Unlike current incubation methods that deliver oxygen and nutrients directly to the organs like the lungs which may not have the full capacity to handle the treatment, the newer system would allow fetuses to grow its organs under natural conditions.

Research into the idea has been ongoing. In 2017, a team of researchers from Childrens Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) in US successfully tested an artificial womb meant to carry premature births on a lamb feotus.

Why is it controversial?

While the implication of artificial wombs in terms of prenatal care could be miraculous, critics have already raised alarm bells over what this could mean for women's rights. Some feminist thinkers, as Professor Julien S. Murphy of the University of Southern Maine wrote in her book 'Feminist Perspectives in Medical Ethics' wrote, have raised concerns about how birthing outside of the human body, or ectogenesis, will affect the perception of women. Some even fear that deleting the need for women's bodies from the reproductive process could lead to women becoming obsolete. It would also impact abortion rights and the global women's movement to reclaim control over their bodies.

Strides in ectogenesis could also open up a minefield of political and ethical complications. While medical science is still a long way from completely growing babies from petri dishes, the possibility raises concerns about reproductive rights and genetic engineering.

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Live-cell pig skin successfully used to treat human burn wound – New Atlas

Posted: at 5:40 pm

When someone has a severe burn, a protective covering needs to be temporarily grafted onto the wound site and as soon as possible. Although that covering typically consists of skin from a human cadaver, genetically-engineered live-cell pig skin has now been used on a patient for the first time.

Applied to second- and third-degree burns, sheets of human cadaveric skin also known as allografts initially help to protect wounds against infection and fluid loss, along with the potentially-lethal complications that could follow. Once the recipient has stabilized, the allograft is removed and a piece of the patient's own skin is permanently transplanted onto the wound, from another part of their body.

Unfortunately, though, allografts are often in short supply, plus they can be expensive. With that in mind, scientists at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) developed a genetically-modified line of pigs, back in the 1990s. Those animals lack a gene that is ordinarily present in pigs but not in humans, allowing skin grafts from the pigs to appear less "foreign" to a human patient's immune system.

The technology has since been commercialized by spinoff company XenoTherapeutics, in the form of live-cell tissue grafts known as Xeno-Skin. In a recent clinical trial, MGH surgeon Jeremy Goverman used one of those "xenografts" on a human recipient for the first time.

Measuring 5 by 5 cm (2 by 2 inches), the Xeno-Skin was applied to a burn alongside a larger conventional allograft. Both were secured in place using surgical staples and gauze bandages, and then removed five days later. At that point, the two coverings were found to be "indistinguishable from each other" in appearance, having performed equally well at protecting the underlying wound by temporarily adhering to it as the patient stabilized.

A skin graft from the recipient's own thigh was then permanently applied to the wound, with healing now progressing as anticipated. Importantly, the scientists detected no transmission of porcine endogenous retroviruses, the risk of which has previously limited the viability of transplanting live tissue or organs from pigs to humans.

"This small step we took today, represents a massive number of hours spanning decades of research in a multitude of fields including transplantation biology, immunology and genetic engineering," says Goverman. "Additionally, rapid advancements in gene-editing technology open a vast new avenue for genetically modifying pig skin that isnt rejected, representing the next chapter in standards of care for burn and transplant patients alike."

Sources: Massachusetts General Hospital, XenoTherapeutics

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5 Reasons Why Lex Luthor Is Smarter Than The Green Goblin (And 5 Ways Norman Osborn Is Smarter) – CBR – Comic Book Resources

Posted: at 5:40 pm

In both the corporate and supervillain worlds, Lex Luthor and Norman Osborn are at the top of their games in their respective universes. Not content to bedeviling just Superman and Spider-Man, both antagonists have threatened and nearly completed world domination, requiring either the Justice League or the Avengers to put an end to their nefarious schemes.

Their successes are due in no small part to the nature of their characters: ambitious, calculating and ruthless. However, the one trait that sets them apart from other supervillains is their genius-level intelligence, which begs the question: Who is smarter, Lex Luthor or Norman Osborn?

RELATED:10 Marvel/DC Characters With The Exact Same Powers

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A man of guts and vision, Norman Osborn founded Oscorp with Mendel Stromm, having financed the lions share of the investment himself. Aside from that, Osborn ran the business end of the company while also contributing to the research in genetics that would eventually give him his augmented strength, reflexes, and healing factor.

Osborns raw intellect also helped develop his vast array of Goblin-themed weapons, including his infamous glider. However, his actions as the Green Goblin led to the combination of Stromms death, his loss of public image, and insanity. This was enough to lead to Oscorps downfall, but Norman was smart enough toset up a dummy corporation under an assumed name to ensure his grandsons legacy.

RELATED:The Top 10 Fictional Marvel Companies

Lex Luthors business acumen is unparalleled in the DC Universe, as LexCorps net worth and diversification portfolio dwarf any other companys, including Wayne Enterprises. Originally founded as a scientific research firm with a specialty in aeronautics, LexCorp has grown in scope and reach, with subsidiaries in all areas of the world and domains as varied as private security, weapons manufacturing, and computer software.

This success is due in no small part to its CEO, Lex Luthor himself. Aside from his formidable business knowledge and instinct, Luthor is not above breaking the law to ensure his companys growth and a robust bottom line.

Although Norman Osborn holds degrees in mechanical engineering and chemistry, its genetic engineering that he excels at, as that is what gave him the formula for his Green Goblin serum. Although heavily aided in this endeavor by his mentor Dr. Mendel Stromm, Normans scientific contributions and willingness to serve as a test subject were the key factors in granting him his enhanced strength, agility and resilience.

As if this feat were not impressive enough, Norman also designed his own weaponssome deceptively simple as the razor bats, and some requiring intricate knowledge of engineering and physics, like his sparkle-blasts and glider.

In his early appearances, most of Supermans adversaries were mad scientists, and Lex Luthor was chief amongst them. Modern incarnations of the character have often depicted Lex as a wealthy captain of industry, but his aptitude for scientific research, particularly in the technological field, has not diminished.

Aside from funding cutting-edge research, Luthor personally engages in advanced weapons development, reverse engineering of alien tech, and the search for alternative (usually kryptonite-powered) energy sources. In some continuities, Luthor is even responsible for creating some of the Man of Steels most deadly enemies, like the kryptonite-powered Metallo. His most recognizable accomplishment is the creation of his battlesuit, allowing him to go toe-to-toe with the Man of Steel andcementing him as an evil scientific genius extraordinaire.

RELATED:Lex & Violence: Lex Luthor's Most Powerful Anti-Superman Suits, Ranked

Aside from his intellectual prowess in science and business, Norman Osborn is also no slouch in the strategy department. With considerable resources at his disposal and the patience of a slow-burning wick, Osborn is capable of crafting intricate long and short term plans designed to bring an unsuspecting opponent to their knees.

Perhaps nowhere is this more evident than in the immediate events following his 'death' at the end of the Gwen Stacy affair. Allowing Spider-Man to believe he was gone for good, Osborn went about orchestrating the systematic destruction of his foe by faking Aunt May's death, absconding Peter and MJ's baby, and perhaps most unforgivably (to both Spidey and his readers), perpetrating the Clone Saga.

RELATED: Spider-Man 10 Things You Didn't Know About Aunt May

A formidable intellect like Lex Luthor's also breeds a formidable ego. A master strategist, whether he's planning a corporate takeover or his latest attack on Superman, Luthor walks with a grandiose swagger and self-assuredness that matches his considerable IQ. Ever the opportunist, Luthor is even smart enough to use his reputation for being smart to his advantage; his expertise on something is rarely questioned, and if so, his clout and considerable connections will usually silence his adversary for him. For Luthor, intelligence and intimidation go hand-in-hand, and he's not above using the former to ensure the latter to fulfill his aims.

Norman Osborn's ambition has often gone far beyond making Peter Parker's life miserable. Following the events of Secret Invasion and the dissolution of S.H.I.E.L.D., Osborn used his considerable influence to lobby for the creation of a new American defense program, with himself at its head. Now director of H.A.M.M.E.R., Osborn used his considerable resources and intelligence to further his own political agenda.

No fool, his first act was to try to neutralize his predecessor, Tony Stark. Next, he tried to gain access to all metahuman civilian identities gathered duringCivil War. When that didn't pan out, he resorted to restructuring the Avengers with members of the former-villains-turned hero superteam, the Thunderbolts, all in an ingeniously evil plan to give him almost unlimited power.

RELATED:Spider-Man: 5 of Norman Osborns Smartest Plans (& 5 That Were Destined To Fail)

Of all Lex Luthor's accomplishments, perhaps the greatest was becoming Presidentof the United States. His massive ego bruised by the sheer adulation Metropolis and the world gave Superman, Luthor decided to put his formidable intellect and resources to use and procure himself the presidency. Aside from winning the most powerful seat in world governance, Luthor had the foresight to leave LexCorp in the hands of Talia Al Ghul, a similarly intelligent and devious individual.

Once in office, Luthor coordinated the defense of the Earth during the Our Worlds at War storyline, including the risky but brilliant idea of siccing a mind-controlled Doomsday on Imperiex.

Having achieved a position of extensive power and influence by being appointed the new director of H.A.M.M.E.R., Osborn did not rest on his laurels. Instead, he called together several of the most powerful supervillains in the Marvel Universe together to form the Cabal, a dark mirror of the Illuminati and a secret group of heroes who got together to covertly discuss and enact unofficial policies in the superhero world. In this act, Osborn exhibited intelligent foresight, as now there would be nothing to stop him and his cadre of nefarious contemporaries from doing whatever they wished.

RELATED:The 10 Worst Things That Marvel's Illuminati Have Done

If Lex Luthor is Supermans greatest enemy, then a strong argument can be made for Brainiac being the second. A superior intellect that roams the universe amassing data on countless worlds and miniaturizing whole cities for cataloging and storage, Brainiacs digitized intelligence contains galactic repositories of knowledge, which he has used in schemes against Superman for decades.

In many continuities, Luthor has sought out Brainiac and merged with him, creating a completely new entity. This fusion of an already genius-level intellect with an inter-galactic database created an extremely deadly and ruthless adversary whose intelligence and cunning were second to none.

NEXT:5 Reasons Joker Would Beat Green Goblin In A Fight (& 5 Why Norman Osborn Would Win)

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Marvel’s ‘Powers of X’ Ends With Surprising Revelation – Hollywood Reporter

Posted: October 10, 2019 at 12:45 am

Death was conquered, via an elaborate cloning technique, and everything looked as if things were finally turning around for Charles Xaviers friends and foes.

And then Powers of X explicitly states that things will always turn out badly for mutants.

Its much worse than that. We always lose, Moira MacTaggart tells Xavier midway through the series, and she should know; by this point in the narrative, she has lived and died nine different times, trying alternative ways to maintain the survival of the mutant race without success. (As the final issue of Powers of X reveals, Moira has lived for a thousand years in one timeline and it still ended with the mutantkind being outstripped by a humanity augmented by its own invention.

Mutants are an evolutionary response to an environment. You are naturally occurring. The next step in human evolution, a character from 1,000 years in the future explains in the issue. But what happens when humanity stops being beholden to its environment? When man controls the building blocks of biology and technology Evolution is no match for genetic engineering. What good was one mutant adapting to its environment when we could make ten super men?

Turning the franchises long-running theme on its head, the core conflict of the X-Men property isnt homo superior (mutant) versus homo sapien (man), but homo superior versus homo novissima (post-human, or genetically engineered human) a battle that, its suggested, mutantkind will lose no matter what.

Armed with this knowledge, Moira has manipulated events throughout the franchise and certain people to try and equip mutantkind as best she can in the upcoming conflict, leading to a united Xavier and Magneto announcing that she has honed them into perfect tools for an imperfect age that would change things moving forward.

The new era of X-Men comics, therefore, is one in which the majority of characters believe that theyre living in a golden age of mutantkind, but theyre actually part of the latest in a series of conflicts for survival that they are, perhaps, destined to lose. How this thread will continue through the multiple Dawn of X spinoff titles remains to be seen, but with Powers of X author Jonathan Hickman writing the ongoing X-Men series launching in the wake of this reveal, one thing is for certain: This isnt an idea that is going to go away anytime soon.

Powers of X No. 6 is available now in comic book stores and digitally.

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As Silicon Valley faces a tech reckoning, biologists point to the next big opportunity – CNBC

Posted: at 12:45 am

Senior automation engineer optimizing automated lab protocol on colony picker.

At one of the world's largest synthetic biology conferences this week, a food truck handed out papaya and yogurt samples to hundreds of attendees.

The papaya wasn't any ordinary papaya: It was a genetically engineered fruit that Dr. Dennis Gonsalves designed to be naturally resistant to the ringworm virus. Because of his invention, pesticide use dropped in Hawaii and production flourished.

The conference was SynBioBeta, and it has gotten so big that it moved this year from a conference center in San Francisco's Mission Bay, which is often reserved for biotech meetings, to a large converted Honda dealership on the grittier side of San Francisco's downtown core. The event has been around since 2012 to bring together founders working on biological alternatives to chemical-based processes, and its organizer John Cumbers previously worked as a synthetic biologist at NASA.

The event was a refreshing break from the current malaise facing the traditional "tech" industry.

Many of the big consumer tech companies that started after the Great Recession, like Uber and WeWork, were supposed to make investors and employees rich, but instead have collapsed in value amid scandals and persistently unprofitable business models. Giants of the industry, like Facebook and Google, are under assault from both sides of the aisle in Washington, D.C., for being too powerful, too careless with privacy and too addictive. Venture capitalists are fighting with banks over the IPO process. The smartphone revolution is more than a decade old, and the would-be replacements -- self-driving cars, computerized eyeglasses -- always seem to be another five to ten years away.

This conference presented a much more optimistic view of technology's potential, focused on biology rather than microprocessors.

At booths stationed throughout the space, entrepreneurs presented inventions ranging from industrial robotics to designer proteins. They all hailed from different industries including retail, food and manufacturing, but they shared a common vision that after decades of investment in information technology, it was biology's turn.

A food truck promoting GMOs

Christina Farr, CNBC

"The conference has an irreverent, counter culture vibe to it," said Jorge Conde, an investor at Andreessen Horowitz, who spoke at the event. Conde said that the founders are a "new breed" and they reminded him of the first generation of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs in the era of Steve Jobs.

"You're seeing this explosion of creativity, and also idealism," he said. Many of the founders, he noted, are attempting to build real, money-making businesses while also attempting to create solutions that are more sustainable and eco-friendly in an era of climate change.

Conde, who has been attending the event for a few years now, described synthetic biology as "the ability to design or program organisms to make things for us."

He's one of a growing number of investors in the space, alongside billionaires like former Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who are spurred in part by the success of the Beyond Meat IPO. Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt personally spoke at the event, noting that "biology will undoubtedly fuel computing." The synthetic biology market is now expected to hit $55 billion by 2025.

In recent years, venture-funded companies like Zymergen and Ginkgo Bioworks have raised hundreds of millions of dollars in venture capital to provide a platform of sorts for the next generation of synthetic biology companies. The idea behind them is to make it easier for companies like Beyond Meat to flourish on the consumer side, but also to support industrial applications. (Note that Beyond Meat is the one tech-related IPO that's done spectacularly well this year, and is the only reason overall tech IPOs are outperforming the S&P 500.)

Ginkgo, for instance, is looking to spur a slew of new plant-based alternatives to meat by funding research into proteins and developing the key ingredients in the lab, so that food companies can focus on things like texture and flavor. Founded by a group of MIT scientists, it uses genetic engineering to design and print new DNA for a range of organisms, including plants and bacteria.

"A lot of start-ups come to this conference, but I've also seen 'futures' teams here from big companies like Lululemon and Adidas," said Christina Agapakis, a scientist turned creative director at Ginkgo, which has raised more than $700 million in venture capital. "These are people who are looking ten years out for new materials, and for more renewable and biodegradable options."

Christina Agapakis, a synthetic biology writer with Ginkgo Bioworks, displaying the company's magazine.

Christina Farr | CNBC

Ginkgo, one of the larger companies at the conference, set up its own espresso coffee booth and handed out a magazine called Grow to promote genetically modified organisms or GMOs. It also highlighted some of the companies that Ginkgo has started to invest in, like Motif, which is helping foster a lot more companies like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat by working on the plant-based proteins that provide that meat-like flavor, and Cronos, which is looking to create rare strains of cannabinoids in the lab, some of which are being researched as a pain management solution for chronically ill patients.

"A lot of folks in our world aren't using the term 'GMO,' and instead will say it's something like 'gene modification' or 'CRISPR,' said Agapakis, referring to a technique that allows for specific and rapid modification of DNA in the genome.

But Agapakis' company is embracing it. At last year's SynBioBeta, attendees took selfies in front of an "I heart GMO" sign. Agapakis is hoping that her company can help make GMOs distinct from companies like Monsanto, which spurred a reaction from activists for its use of genetic engineering to promote profits. Ginkgo is hoping to revitalize the term, and associate it with socially-conscious products like meat-free burgers and cow-free leather.

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Biotech experts gather at the White House for Summit on Americas Bioeconomy – GeekWire

Posted: at 12:45 am

Federal officials discuss Americas bioeconomy during a White House summit. (OSTP Photo via Twitter)

More than 100 biotech researchers, industry executives and government officials met at the White House today for a summit focusing on Americas bioeconomy the range of products, services and data derived from biological processes and bioscience research.

The bioeconomy is already an integral part of the general economy, White House chief technology officer Michael Kratsios told the attendees. In 2017, revenues from engineered biological systems reached nearly $400 billion.

He cited figures from SynBioBeta suggesting that the private sector alone invested more than $3.7 billion in early-stage biological engineering and manufacturing tech companies during 2018.

But we are not only here because of what biotechnology has done we are invested in what biotechnology is going to do, Kratsios said.

For example, in 2017 the Food and Drug Administration approved the first treatment that makes use of CAR-T immunotherapy to fight leukemia. CAR-T that is, chimeric antigen receptor T-cells involves the use of genetic engineering to help a patients own immune cells kill off cancer cells more effectively. Several Seattle institutions, including the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, are leaders in the field.

Kratsios also cited the example of Project Medusa, a Pentagon-backed experiment that uses bacterial processes to harden the surface of a military-grade runway.

He noted that the White House lists bioeconomic innovation among its priorities for research and development funding, and that President Donald Trump recently signed an executive order aimed at modernizing how agricultural biotech products are regulated.

By speeding up the approval process for biotechnology, we will reduce the costs to review biotech plants by millions of dollars and bring new products to market faster, Kratsios said.

Looking ahead, Kratsios said the Trump administration would focus on building up the infrastructure for Americas bioeconomy, attracting talent and protecting genetic and biological data.

As the bioeconomy develops, we need to ensure it is rooted in American values and is always used for the benefit of the American people, he said.

Todays summit was meant to start the process: Officials from federal agencies ranging from the Defense Department to the Office of Science and Technology Policy laid out their perspectives on biotech, and representatives of biotech industries and academia talked about the opportunities as well as the challenges to U.S. bioeconomic leadership. Among the panelists was Rob Carlson, managing director at Bioeconomy Capital and an affiliate professor at the University of Washingtons Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science and Engineering.

This is an enormous opportunity, and requires investment and bold thinking, Carlson was quoted as saying.

The summit concluded with a string of small-group breakout sessions.

In its summary of the summit proceedings, the White House said it would work with federal agencies to improve cooperation and make sure the bioeconomy is recognized as a priority in key R&D budgets.

Last month, OSTP issued a request for information seeking input about ways to boost the bioeconomy. The deadline for submitting comments is Oct. 22.

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Global Cell Therapy Technologies, Companies & Markets During the Forecast Period, 2018-2028 – – Business Wire

Posted: at 12:45 am

DUBLIN--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The "Cell Therapy - Technologies, Markets and Companies" report from Jain PharmaBiotech has been added to's offering.

This report describes and evaluates cell therapy technologies and methods, which have already started to play an important role in the practice of medicine. Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation is replacing the old fashioned bone marrow transplants. The role of cells in drug discovery is also described. Cell therapy is bound to become a part of medical practice.

Stem cells are discussed in detail in one chapter. Some light is thrown on the current controversy of embryonic sources of stem cells and comparison with adult sources. Other sources of stem cells such as the placenta, cord blood and fat removed by liposuction are also discussed. Stem cells can also be genetically modified prior to transplantation.

Cell therapy technologies overlap with those of gene therapy, cancer vaccines, drug delivery, tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. Pharmaceutical applications of stem cells including those in drug discovery are also described. Various types of cells used, methods of preparation and culture, encapsulation and genetic engineering of cells are discussed. Sources of cells, both human and animal (xenotransplantation) are discussed. Methods of delivery of cell therapy range from injections to surgical implantation using special devices.

Cell therapy has applications in a large number of disorders. The most important are diseases of the nervous system and cancer which are the topics for separate chapters. Other applications include cardiac disorders (myocardial infarction and heart failure), diabetes mellitus, diseases of bones and joints, genetic disorders, and wounds of the skin and soft tissues.

Regulatory and ethical issues involving cell therapy are important and are discussed. The current political debate on the use of stem cells from embryonic sources (hESCs) is also presented. Safety is an essential consideration of any new therapy and regulations for cell therapy are those for biological preparations.

The cell-based markets was analyzed for 2018 and projected to 2028. The markets are analyzed according to therapeutic categories, technologies, and geographical areas. The largest expansion will be in diseases of the central nervous system, cancer, and cardiovascular disorders. Skin and soft tissue repair, as well as diabetes mellitus, will be other major markets.

The report contains information on the following:

Key Topics Covered:

Part I: Technologies, Ethics & Regulations

Executive Summary

1. Introduction to Cell Therapy

2. Cell Therapy Technologies

3. Stem Cells

4. Clinical Applications of Cell Therapy

5. Cell Therapy for Cardiovascular Disorders

6. Cell Therapy for Cancer.

7. Cell Therapy for Neurological Disorders

8. Ethical, Legal and Political Aspects of Cell therapy

9. Safety and Regulatory Aspects of Cell Therapy

Part II: Markets, Companies & Academic Institutions

10. Markets and Future Prospects for Cell Therapy

11. Companies Involved in Cell Therapy

12. Academic Institutions

13. References

For more information about this report visit

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NSF funds research on nitrogen fixation | The Source – Washington University in St. Louis Newsroom

Posted: at 12:45 am

The word agriculture conjures up an array of images: endless fields of corn stalks, amber waves of grain, the deserts of Africa Africa? While thoughts of the African landscape may tend to invoke a dry and empty countryside, scientists at Washington University in St. Louis are working to develop self-sustaining plants that could eventually turn the Sahara into a sea of green.

Himadri B. Pakrasi, the Glassberg Greensfelder Distinguished University Professor in the department of biology in Arts & Sciences and director of the International Center for Energy, Environment and Sustainability (InCEES), and Costas D. Maranas, professor of chemical engineering at Penn State, were recently awarded a $1.2-million grant from the National Science Foundation for their collaborative study of systems biology. Specifically, the Pakrasi and Maranas labs hope to decode the inner workings of cyanobacteria for the ultimate purpose of producing nitrogen-fixing crop plants.

For more than a century, farmers around the world have relied heavily on chemical fertilizers to help grow their plants and crops. Fertilizers contain nitrogen, an essential building block for all life forms to grow, and an element that is abundant in the earths atmosphere. However, creating man-made fertilizers is an energy intensive process that contributes to greenhouse gases and leads to run-off issues that severely damage the environment. A solution to this problem is to engineer plants to absorb nitrogen from the atmosphere and convert it into fertilizer, a process known as nitrogen fixation, so that the plants would become self-sufficient.

If you have engineered seeds that you give to an African farmer, that farmer can then plant the seeds, which gives rise to a field of crops that would not need chemically synthesized fertilizer to grow, Pakrasi said. This has huge agricultural implications not just for the affluent, Western world,but to the areas hardest hit by climate change.

Easier said than done. Nitrogen fixation cannot take place in the cells of most photosynthetic organisms plants that convert sunlight into energy because when plants are undergoing photosynthesis, a byproduct is oxygen. And oxygen is like a poison when it mixes with nitrogenease, the enzyme that enables nitrogen fixation. However, there is an organism that can accommodate both photosynthesis and nitrogen fixation in the same cell: cyanobacteria.

Just like human beings, cyanobacteria have a robust circadian rhythm a 24-hour biological cycle during which they photosynthesize in the day and fix nitrogen at night. Scientists have long studied these bluish-green creatures, but do not have a detailed understanding of how circadian rhythms allow cyanobacteria to adjust its metabolism for both nitrogen fixation and photosynthesis to take place in the same cell. With advances in genetic modification tools, it is now possible to probe deeper into the details of this process.

There are still missing parts of the cyanobacterial puzzle, Pakrasi said. The only way to identify what those missing parts are is to actually go into the cyanobacterium and tease apart the machinery. And thats what this grant will allow us to do.

In other words, the Pakrasi lab will perform a series of genetic modifications to the cyanobacteria and generate new data. The Maranas lab will then take the data and develop a predictive model for the inner working of the cyanobacterium. This iterative process will take some time, but the research is imperative to combating the climate changes facing the planet, Pakrasi said.

Its kind of like building an electric pickup truck, Pakrasi said. How do you go from a gasoline fueled car to a Tesla pickup truck? The basic technology for making a gas fueled car is already known, but were moving to a new paradigm of production in the form of a Tesla truck. Once we figure it out, we can deploy the new technology to our partners all over the world.

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