Biotech Weekly
Research is what I'm doing when I don't know what I'm doing.

Wernher von Braun
aerospace engineer
Kinetoplast DNAs (kDNA) are the most startlingly com­plex and unexpected DNA structures anywhere. Super­latives do not suffice, as you will see.
Stem cells taken from muscle tissue could promote better blood flow in patients with diabetes who develop peripheral artery disease, a painful complication that can require surgery or lead to amputation.

Stem Cells
Non-OA | Here, by performing high-resolution proteomic analysis of human acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) stem-cell and non-stem-cell populations, we find the BCAA pathway enriched and BCAT1 protein and transcripts overexpressed in leukaemia stem cells. 
Non-OA | In the present study, we demonstrated that EIF5A2 might play a crucial role in cancer regulation and investigated its potential molecular mechanisms. Using qRT-PCR assay, we observed that the expression of EIF5A2 positively correlated with CD133 levels in a cohort of cancerous and non-cancerous liver tissues and cells.
In a report published this week (Nov. 8, 2017) in Science Advances, researchers from the University of Wisconsin–Madison detail a defined, step-by-step process to make a more exact mimic of the human blood-brain barrier in the laboratory dish. The new model will permit more robust exploration of the cells, their properties and how scientists might circumvent the barrier for therapeutic purposes.

Setting aside the many ethical issue about the general idea of human modification itself, could this really work? Yes in theory it could, but there are some very tough technological challenges that could and likely would cause failures or unacceptable outcomes at many steps along the way.
Inner ear stem cells can be converted to auditory neurons that could reverse deafness, but the process can also make those cells divide too quickly, posing a cancer risk. The encouraging news is that turning stem cells into auditory neurons can be controlled – at least in a Petri dish.

A new stem cell study conducted at the University of Copenhagen shows how we may increase the vital production of insulin in patients suffering from diabetes. The discovery helps to more efficiently at less cost make insulin-producing beta cells from human stem cells. Therefore, the research paves the way for more effective treatment of diabetes. The method may also prove significant to the treatment of a series of other diseases.

Liver failure remains the leading cause of postoperative mortality after hepatectomy. The present study investigated the effect of treatment with allogenic mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) on survival and liver regeneration 48h and 7 days after 80% hepatectomy in C57Bl/6 mice.
Non-OA | Eliminating errors in next-generation DNA sequencing has proved challenging. Here we present error-correction code (ECC) sequencing, a method to greatly improve sequencing accuracy by combining fluorogenic sequencing-by-synthesis (SBS) with an information theory–based error-correction algorithm.
Non-OA | Built-in error-correction and novel fluorogenic chemistry open a path to perfect read quality. 
Non-OA | A study that tracked the eye movement of twins has found that genetics plays a strong role in how people attend to their environment.
Cell and Molecular
Recent developments in bioengineering promise the possibility of new diagnostic and treatment strategies, novel industrial processes, and innovative approaches to thorny problems in fields such as nutrition, agriculture, and biomanufacturing. As modern genetics has matured and developed technologies of increasing power, debates over risk assessments and proper applications of the technology, and over who should have decision-making power over such issues, have become more prominent. Recently, some scientists have advocated that ethicists “step out of the way,” whereas others have called for greater ethical scrutiny, or even for moratoria on some lines of research. As a community, however, we must together determine the proper application of these powerful biological tools. This paper, a consensus statement of a group of interdisciplinary delegates drawn from the top biotech-producing countries of the world, offers a set of ethical principles to contribute to the ethical conversation about human cellular biotechnological research moving forward.
Non-OA | Many promising targets for T-cell-based cancer immunotherapies are self-antigens. During thymic selection, T cells bearing T cell receptors (TCRs) with high affinity for self-antigen are eliminated. The affinity of the remaining low-avidity TCRs can be improved to increase their antitumor efficacy, but conventional saturation mutagenesis approaches are labor intensive, and the resulting TCRs may be cross-reactive. Here we describe the in vitro maturation and selection of mouse and human T cells on antigen-expressing feeder cells to develop higher-affinity TCRs.
By infecting organotypic brain slice cultures from embryonic mice, we have shown that Zika virus has always been neurotropic. The same culture system provides information on how Zika virus infection of the developing brain might lead to microcephaly.
OA | Here we review recent developments in animal and human models of mitochondrial replacement therapy (MRT) and the underlying biology. These have led to potential clinical applications; we identify challenges to their technical refinement.
OA | Budding yeast is a model organism in understanding fundamental aspects of eukaryotic cells, such as cell polarization and cell aging. Previously, extensive research has focused on the molecular mechanisms of biological processes in yeast, but many questions regarding yeast budding remain unsolved. For example, how do different budding patterns affect yeast colony growth? How does declined spatial order due to aging impact the colony at the population level? To address these questions, we developed a computational agent-based model, which incorporates key biological processes, the effect of aging, as well as cell-environment interaction.
OA | Fluorescence microscopy has enabled imaging of key subcellular structures in living cells; however, the use of fluorescent dyes and proteins is often expensive, time-consuming, and damaging to cells. Here, we present a tool for the prediction of fluorescently labeled structures in live cells solely from 3D brightfield microscopy images.
General Science
Is it time to reassess the 14-day rule for human embryo research?
Some intestinal-dwelling bacteria appear to corral and train immune cells to fight off cancer cells—prior to any spurring from cancer immunotherapies. Without such microbial priming, the drugs may only offer a futile prod. In both studies, published this week in Science, researchers found that the cancer patients who saw no benefit from the drugs (non-responders) were the ones who lacked certain beneficial gut bugs, particularly after taking antibiotics. Meanwhile, cancer patients who did respond to the drugs had bacteria that could prompt the immune system to release chemicals that get cancer-killing immune cells—T cells—to chomp at the bit.
In Other News...
Three biotech companies have gone public in the last two days, bringing the year's tally of biotech IPOs to 30 so far. Here's what Nasdaq is predicting for the rest of this year and 2018.
For a soccer-playing, holiday-loving boy on the brink of death from a rare inherited skin disease, doctors have accomplished a feat of genetic engineering, surgical stamina and raw nerve.
Scientists fear a crackdown on embryo research if President Trump pays attention to scientific advances.
More than a dozen members of the editorial board at Scientific Reports have resigned after the journal decided not to retract a 2016 paper that a researcher claims plagiarized his work.

As of this (Wednesday) morning, 19 people — mostly researchers based at Johns Hopkins — had stepped down from the board, according to Hopkins researcher Steven Salzberg. Salzberg organized the response after learning of the issue from colleague Michael Beer, who has accused the 2016 paper of plagiarism.

A top US official at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, who was recently appointed by President Donald Trump, has called for the retraction of a paper that suggests the country exports a significant amount of illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing.

Hope you enjoyed your week and this issue of Biotech Weekly! If you think someone would like this collection of biotech related news and recent research publications, just forward them this email. Thank you! - Kate the Great
Kate Busse · 2111 Manchester Ave · Encinitas CA 92007 · USA
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