A South Korean biotechnology company, RNL Bio has partnered with John Hopkins University scientists for the purpose of conducting research on adult stem cell research. Stem cells have the ability to divide into cell types and can be used for repairing tissues or grown organs. Hopkins was a very big attraction for Hopkins. It is expected that the state would emerge to play a leading role in the area of stem cell research. As per Jeongchan Ra, CEO, RNL: RNL is excited about being able to partner with a top-class university such as JHU and looks forward to collaborating with the world-renowned experts at Johns Hopkins. We believe that this is a tremendous step for us in our goal to become a global leader in the stem cell industry. On the other hand there has been criticism regarding embryonic stem cells from religious groups and people who are opposed to it on ethical grounds.
In another development in the field of biotechnology, Nippon Paper Group is testing rice variant which could lessen the symptoms of hay fever. This special variety of rice was developed with the help of MAT vector system for the purpose of genetically extracting genomes or epitope in the rice. These epitope could act as a vaccine for hay fever and people consuming this strain of rice would be experiencing lesser symptoms of hay fever during the season. In order to achieve this, Nippon paper has established a large greenhouse of five hundred square meter on island of Komatsu and it is expected that around seven hundred kilograms of rice would be produced annually under proper light and temperature. The project has been commissioned by the Ministry of Forestry, Agriculture and Fisheries.
A significant development has been undertaken in the production of therapeutic proteins. The researchers of Dartmouth/GlycoFi have announced the complete humanization of glycosylation pathway in the yeast Pichia Pastoris. Up till now protein based therapies consisted of more than half of all drugs in the development stage and their manufacturing involved living cells which had to be genetically engineered in order to produce the required protein. A process called glycosylation had to be performed in order to attain full function. Till now this required expression of proteins in mammalian cells which have the ability of attaching human like sugar structures. This new study has repeated all the steps of human glycosylation in a yeast cell and has eliminated the need for mammalian cells but the technology has also enabled various advantages over the conventional usage of mammalian cell cultures in form of reduced risk of contamination through pathogens and improved drug performance and efficiency in manufacturing. As per Tillman Gerngross, CSO, GlycoFi: We’ve successfully completed one of the most complex cellular engineering endeavors undertaken to date.
In EU alone around eight percent of the children and four percent of adults suffer from food allergies. Dutch researchers are saying that if the combination of vaccines and biotechnology worked then the name of food allergy would only be found in the history books within a period of ten years. This news might bring smiles on the faces of people suffering from food allergy and could put the future of free from food market in jeopardy. A well defined combination of hypo-allergenic recombinant allergens and novel adjuvants based on anti-inflammatory molecules from pathogens could help in fighting food allergies. The advancements in the field of biotechnology has found out that certain molecules in foods lead to food allergies and this could also help the field of genetic engineering to change the molecules and cure the root cause of these allergies.
Thailand is looking forward to co-operate with Cuba on biotechnology which could bring changes in food and herbal studies. Both the countries have entered into an agreement on scientific co-operation in the areas of nanotechnology, biotechnology, computer and electronics and materials science. The agreement would enable Thailand to gain from knowledge of Cuba since Cuba is quite advanced in the field of biotechnology as it’s quite rich in biological resources. Prime minister of Thailand is on a visit to Cuba and this visit is expected to open up gates of opportunity for both the countries in exchanging their studies and research. As far as Cuba is concerned it has large variety of plants and cereals which have been developed through biotechnology and in order to gain from the experience of Cuba, Thailand is co-operating with it in this field. With regards to the development Thai scientists have undertaken researches on food and herbal studies in Cuba and in order to gain expertise have also undertaken a visit to Cuba’s Cancer Research Institute. It seems Thailand is all set to develop itself in the field of biotechnology.
Now day’s women are under ever increasing pressure to either donate their ova for research or freeze them. Women are recommended to freeze their eggs so that they do not face problems later, when they are trying for pregnancy in later years. Women who are in their thirties are advised to freeze their eggs for future use. It is found that women who presently freeze their eggs do it because of medical reasons like cancer. Experts believe that there will be increased cases of social egg freezers in future. Women are increasingly being asked to donate their ova for research purposes. It was reported that in the city of Newcastle that women undergoing vitro fertilization treatment to donate their eggs were being paid. The permission for the same was given by the government. The decision to pay the women has faced increased protests. The major concern is of minimal use of drugs and minimum harvesting of drugs.
There is some good news for patients suffering from type 1 diabetes. Researchers at the UCLA have come up with a new vaccine that can help in the treatment of type 1 diabetes. The vaccine has been tested in humans and has been found useful. The drug named Diamyd is being checked for viability. Diamyd is based on researches on Glutamic Acid Decarboxylase. It is really unlikely that a drug for type 1 diabetes to be available for at least a few years. GAD was found successful in mice in Phase I. Phase II involved the testing of the drug on adults who have been recently diagnosed with diabetes. The results showed that the vaccine was effective in preserving the insulin production for at least 2 years. Type 1 diabetes generally begins in adolescence or may be even childhood. This kind of diabetes is characterized by the failure of the body to produce insulin, as the body’s immune system destroys the insulin producing cells of the pancreas.
As per a study released by Institute, University of Toledo (UT) has been rated among world’s top nonprofit organizations for transforming research dollars into biotechnology companies. For every $14 million that University of Toledo had spent on research in 2004, it created a new biotechnology start up which has given it the seventh spot among academic centers in Asia, Europe and North America. The first spot was garnered by Satakunta Polytechnic which established one new company for every $400,000. The second spot was occupied by Brigham Young University in Utah. Though UT achieved improvement in its access to research dollars and commercialization of patents since the year 200, the university has stated that its research expenditures were not that much to emerge as the central incubator of technology in metropolitan Toledo.
BASF has stated that it has given an application to Defra for conducting trials of genetically modified blight resistant potatoes in the UK and this has again shifted the attention over the question as to whether or not GM has got a place in UK agriculture. Meanwhile as the deadline for responses to the Government’s GM co-existence consultation comes closer there seems to be a divided opinion as ever. A straw poll on ‘Should we grow GM potatoes in the UK?’ which was conducted by Farmers Guardian showed that the respondents were divided on this question. Also a number of questions have been raised regarding the blight control in the UK. These questions are: Is there blight resistance available in conventionally-bred potato varieties? Is it becoming more difficult and expensive? Are the BASF GM varieties resistant to the A2 blight strain?
For nearly a century the limestone miners made their living by working in the Southern Indiana’s cave country. Times have changed now and this rock quarry has now been turned into a warehouse. In this bottomless maze the air is chilly and damp. There are roads that connect 12 large chambers. Some of these chambers are being used by the US military to store ready to eat meals. The place is also being used by tire companies to store their supplies because of the stable temperature conditions. One of the rooms in this quarry is being used to grow corns. The room is a hot one with the temperature constant at 82 degrees. With the help of biotechnology gene sequence from a different species or an unrelated plant can be inserted into corn. As the corn grows the protein can be harvested and used for vaccine or a drug. The plants can be used to make life saving compounds for diseases like cystic fibrosis or diabetes or cancer.