CRISPR In a Nutshell

A very informative video about CRISPR-Cas9 and its implications in future developments of the biotechnology sector. Wish I’d found this sooner!


Bayer Teams Up With Versant Ventures to Develop Stem-Cell Therapies

I’ve talked a lot on this blog about how important stem cell therapy will become in the future, and their enormous potential in treating previously untreatable diseases. Truly, I believe that stem-cell breakthroughs (as well as CRISPR gene editing technology!) will define the scientific accomplishments of our time.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Bayer AG (a pharmaceutical giant based in Germany) and Versant Ventures (a US health care investor) are planning on establishing a joint stem-cell research company. This is significant for two reasons; first, because it is just another testament to the potential of stem cell technology, and second, because it marks the latest effort by a big pharmaceutical company to develop novel drugs by pairing up with smaller biotechnology companies.



Worlds-First Therapeutic Dental Vaccine

Image result for World-first therapeutic dental vaccineOral medicine scientists from the Melbourne University have come up a vaccine that could negate or at least decrease the need for operations and antibiotic use in the treatment of severe gum disease. The project proponents from the institution’s Oral Health CRC have been working on the initiative for the past fifteen years. They intend to bring their methodology into the market by 2018, to most importantly cater for periodontitis patients across the globe. The periodontitis ailing often plagues the teeth’s supportive gum tissue and bone, resulting in tooth loss. In Australia alone, its affecting more than 50 percent of the population above age 65.

Published at the journal NPJ Vaccines, the undertaking also features analysis of the vaccine’s effectiveness by dentistry specialists from the Cambridge University. It specifically targets the enzymes produced by the bacterium Porphyromonas gingivalis, to in turn initiate an immune response. The occurrence further oversees the production of antibodies which nullify the pathogen’s destructive toxins. Eric Reynolds, CEO of Oral Health CRC, notes that the current surgery and antibiotic methodologies are helpful; though a bit ineffective since in most scenarios, the bacterium recapitulates, further causing the microbiological imbalance that facilitates continual of the disease.


Biologists Unlock 51.7m-year-old Genetic Secret to Darwin Theory

Scientists have identified the cluster of genes responsible for reproductive traits in the Primula flower, first noted as important by Charles Darwin more than 150 years ago.

Over a century ago, Darwin put forth the idea that some plant species that exhibit two different flower forms (where male/female reproductive organs differ in length) had evolved to maximize their ability to out-cross through insect pollinators.

Now, scientists at the University of East Anglia, working at the John Innes Centre, have identified exactly which part of these species’ genetic code made them that way.

According to Philip Gilmartin from UEA’s School of Biological Sciences, “To identify the genes which control the biology noted by Darwin is an exciting moment. Many studies have been done over the past decades to explore the genetic basis of this phenomenon but now we have pinpointed the supergene directly responsible, the S locus.”

Supergenes are clusters of closely-associated genes which are always inherited together as a unit and allow complex biology to be controlled. Researchers worked with the Earlham Institute to map the plant’s genes and sequence the Primula genome to find the specific gene cluster responsible for creating the differing flower morphs.



Increasing Skin Permeability To Improve Drug Delivery

Transdermal drug delivery is a promising way to deliver active ingredients through the skin. Unfortunately, drug developers face considerable challenges when designing therapeutics that are able to pass through the tough outer layer of the skin, known as the stratum corneum.

While the stratum corneum protects the lower levels of skin cells from infection, it also prevents most drugs applied topically from passively diffusing into the blood stream. Now, researchers from Shizuoka University in Japan have developed a method using atmospheric microplasma to disrupt this impermeable layer, making the skin “leaky”.

Using conductive and non-conductive materials, the researchers tested the effects of the plasma treatment on the stratum corneum of pig skin. When the researchers used a conductive material, the plasma jet caused significant damage to the skin samples. Conversely, the non-conductive material using atmospheric microplasma caused no damage to the skin.

This non-conductive microplasma treatment also increased the permeability of the skin, as demonstrated using a dye test. While skin is normally impermeable to dyes, the microplasma treatment allowed the dye to enter the skin through the stratum corneum, suggesting that the same results could be seen with drug products.