Scientists Build First Synthetic Yeast Chromosome

An international team of scientists has built a modified yeast chromosome from scratch, the latest step in the quest to make the world's first synthetic yeast genome, an advance that would lead to new strains of the organism to help produce industrial chemicals, medicines and biofuels. Instead of just copying nature, the team did extensive tinkering with their chromosome, deleting unwanted genes here and there. It then successfully incorporated the designer chromosome into living yeast cells, endowing them with new capabilities not found in naturally occurring yeast. "It is the most extensively altered chromosome ever built," said Jef Boeke of New York University's Langone Medical Center, who led the effort. The findings were published on Thursday in an online edition of the journal Science.
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Researchers Testing Gene Therapy to Thwart Effects of Multiple Sclerosis

In patients with multiple sclerosis, the body turns on itself, launching an immune system attack that destroys the coating around nerve fibers in the central nervous system, leaving them exposed like bare wires. Similar to exposed electrical lines, the unprotected fibers touch and short out, leading to the neurodegenerative effects that are a hallmark of multiple sclerosis. But what if doctors could stop the immune response that destroys the protective coating before the disease becomes debilitating? University of Florida researchers have received a $40,000 grant from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society to test a gene therapy technique in mice that aims to help the body not treat itself like a foreign invader — a process referred to as immune tolerance — in the earliest stages of multiple sclerosis. If the researchers can re-establish this tolerance, they could thwart the immune system attack, all with a technique that could be used on a wide number of patients.
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Adelaide Researchers Claim Breakthrough in Tackling HIV and Hepatitis C with DNA Vaccine

South Australian researchers claim they have made a significant breakthrough in tackling HIV and hepatitis C, using a new type of DNA vaccine which protects against the viruses and could possibly provide a cure in five years. Adelaide University's Professor Eric Gowans says the vaccine has already had positive results in animals, with human trials to start next year. "DNA vaccines in general have enormous potential, but haven't worked very well in large animals and in patients," he said.
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Spark Therapeutics and Genable Technologies Announce Collaboration to Advance a Gene Therapy Treatment for a Rare Form of Retinitis Pigmentosa

Spark Therapeutics and Genable Technologies announced today that they have entered into a collaboration agreement for Genable's lead therapeutic to treat rhodopsin-linked autosomal dominant retinitis pigmentosa (RHO adRP), GT038. Under the terms of the collaboration, Genable will license certain adeno-associated virus (AAV) vector manufacturing patents from Spark. The parties have entered into a broad agreement in which Spark will be the exclusive manufacturer of the product and provide development advice and expertise to Genable to help in the ongoing development of GT038. Spark will receive milestone payments and royalties on future sales of GT038, as well as near-term revenue from the manufacture and supply of product.
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New DNA-editing Technology Spawns Novel Strategies for Gene Therapy

The University of California, Berkeley, and UC San Francisco are launching the Innovative Genomics Initiative (IGI) to lead a revolution in genetic engineering based on a new technology already generating novel strategies for gene therapy and the genetic study of disease. The Li Ka Shing Foundation has provided a $10 million gift to support the initiative, establishing the Li Ka Shing Center for Genomic Engineering and an affiliated faculty chair at UC Berkeley. The two universities also will provide $2 million in start-up funds.
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XstalBio Launches New Analytics Vaccine Service

Scotland-based privately held formulation and drug delivery firm XstalBio has launched a new vaccine analysis service to benefit biopharmaceutical and vaccine sectors. Basis of the new vaccine formulation and analysis service are advanced, precise and highly informative analytical techniques. The new service will be centred on XstalBio's proprietary solid state Circular Dichroism (ssCD) capability alongside highly specialised orthogonal analytical techniques and an increased range of vaccine analysis, formulation and stability testing services. This increased range is comprised of physico-chemical methodologies for vaccine characterization and release, formulation development and stability testing.
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Ohio State Partners with MedVax to Bring a Cancer Peptide Vaccine to Patients

The Ohio State University, through the Ohio State Innovation Foundation, has signed an exclusive world-wide licensing agreement with MedVax Technologies, Inc., for the licensing of groundbreaking cancer peptide vaccine technologies. The anticancer vaccine technologies are designed for the treatment and prevention of cancers associated with the HER2 protein. These include breast, ovarian, lung, colon and pancreatic cancers, and gastrointestinal stromal tumors. The commitment by MedVax will allow innovative clinical trials for various cancers to be conducted in the near future.
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Cancer Vaccine For Advanced Melanoma Effective In Late-Stage Study

An experimental Amgen Inc cancer vaccine used to treat advanced melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, proved effective in a late-stage study in shrinking tumors in a way that suggests the drug triggered the intended systemic immune response, according to data presented on Friday. The vaccine shrank tumors that were directly injected with the drug and tumors around the body that were not injected, according to the data. The drug, talimogene laherparepvec, also known as T-vec, is an engineered virus designed to replicate inside the injected tumor, killing cancer cells there, as well as prime the immune system to attack other cancer cells around body.
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New York Investigates Measles Outbreak in Manhattan, Bronx

The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene announced on Friday that it identified 16 cases of measles in northern Manhattan and the Bronx, including nine pediatric cases. The health department urged New Yorkers to ensure all household members, including young children, are vaccinated against the disease. The outbreak resulted in four hospitalizations.
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Press Release: CureVac Wins Two Million EUR from Inaugural European Commission Vaccine Prize

CureVac, a German clinical stage biopharmaceutical company, today announced that it has won the inaugural European Commission Vaccine Prize. The EU has dedicated the prize of two million Euros in an effort to stimulate innovative solutions for vaccine transportation and storage where cold chain cannot be guaranteed. CureVac’s RNActive® vaccine technology, based on messenger RNA (mRNA), convinced the panel of judges of its potential as a novel vaccine platform with the ability to revolutionize the way vaccines will be developed, manufactured and distributed around the world. As a result of their exceptional stability, RNActive® vaccines eliminate the demand for cold chain logistics.
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