Thursday, January 17, 2019

5 Big Ideas In Biotech For 2019

CRISPR is a part of DNA sequences found within the genomes.The technologies allow genetic material to be modified readily like adding, cutting or altered at any particular loci in the genome. 
1 Longevity Research:  A researcher David Sinclair, says we’re entering “one of the most interesting times in human history.” He’s referring to breakthroughs he expects in his own line of work. But it’s true in many other fields as well. Gene editing, Food innovation, and Synthetic biology dramatically poised to reshape our concept of what it means to be human. Yet technological progress alone isn’t enough. Gene editing CRISPR, the technology is about to make big strides in medicines even scientific community have paused other focus in order to review better its ethical implications. 

It’s time to get real about CRISPR demanded, Feng Zhang a Chinese-American biochemist a professor in Neuroscience at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) “There are really exciting advances in three areas. The first area is CRISPR-based medicine. Some clinical trials are already underway and drug developers are now testing CRISPR in the context of blood diseases, like sickle cell, and also testing it in the eye to treat blindness. There is also work that’s moving quite quickly to apply CRISPR in cancer treatments. “The second area is turning CRISPR into a robust diagnostic tool for infectious diseases like Ebola, or any sort of epidemic virus, and also advancing its application in the future for diagnosing bacterial infections or maybe even cancer. “And the third area is the ability of gene editing to improve agriculture. Making farming more efficient, being able to increase the crop yield, and being able to increase the nutritional properties of agricultural produce to be able to vastly improve human health. And you know, CRISPR-based diagnostics could be used for food safety as well — being able to see if a certain food is contaminated by certain bacteria.

“My hope is that society as a whole will begin to engage in a serious conversation about what is the objective, in terms of gene editing and changing the human germline. The news that came out of China is catalyzing that conversation. It’s an important conversation to have, especially since the technology is so imminent. It’s important to take a pause to really have that conversation so that we can get society’s consent, in whichever direction, to figure out what we want to do — and that pause is not for CRISPR research as a whole, but specifically for the use of CRISPR in editing embryos to establish pregnancy.”

2. Artificial Intelligence (AI):  Poppy Crum, chief scientist at Dolby Laboratories ''I’m looking for ways that technology enhances human capacity, and that’s very different. I think that’s critical in today’s climate. We’re entering an era where technology is bringing benefits to individuals — in their capacity, in their performance, in their success in the workplace — and generally the life will highly depend on the new directions that technology enable us. “The problem is not just bias in AI, because we’ve been talking about that for some time. It’s that we are individuals and we need to look at how a technology is going to impact different demographics. What are the behavioral changes that will happen if the technology is successful? And if it’s not? If we don’t come up with a better way of ensuring that technology is held accountable for realizing those benefits, we’re just going to end up with more demographic rifts and splits.”

3. Food Innovation: Mike Lee, founder of The Future Market “The two defining moments [in food tech in 2018] have really big implications for 2019. For one, Tyson Ventures made an investment in a company in Jerusalem called Future Meat Technologies. Tyson has a stranglehold on the traditional protein market, so it was a big signal in terms of them looking more diversely at what protein means, and looking at cellular agriculture as this viable thing of the future. I think it’ll be interesting in 2019 to see how many other Big Protein players follow suit. “The other thing is [officials in] the United States said that they would not regulate CRISPR-edited crops. There are obviously still questions about how to label it — that’s still up for debate — but the regulatory burden of introducing a CRISPR food product in the United States has become way easier. Simultaneously, Europe went the other way. They consider CRISPR to be under typical rules for genetically modified products, which are pretty stringent. I think what’s going to happen is the investment is going to move beyond the United States in a more aggressive way, and this will really going to shift the wind of innovation. For example, Calyxt has their gene-edited soybean that doesn’t produce trans fats. That’s supposed to come on the market in 2019.

Artificial neural network
4. Neuroscience: Why Technology should get into people’s heads? Bolu Ajiboye, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering at Case Western Reserve University.  Brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) use brain signals, analyze them, and translate them into commands that relayed to output devices needed to carry out desired actions. BCIs do not use normal neuromuscular output pathways. The main goal of BCI is to replace or restore useful function to people disabled by neuromuscular disorders such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, cerebral palsy, stroke, or spinal cord injury. So the work that’s gone on in the last year or so has focused on giving back, particularly to people with spinal cord injury, the ability to get other types of sensory feedback like pressure, temperature, texture, or proprioception. The neural network is very much in its infancy and it’s going to be really exciting to watch it progress. “One milestone that’s on the horizon is a fully implanted BCI system. The goal is to have it be invisible like a pacemaker. Almost everything that [the BCI field has] done so far is very lab-based, and we’re now working on making devices fully implantable so that we can begin to think about it even at-home use, or for someone to use their device 24/7 without being tethered to a computer, or without an expert controlling the device.

 “A lot of public figures and private companies have promised a lot of things about BCIs. Like Facebook, which has promised the ability to type 100 words wireless each single minute on your phone just with your thoughts. I’m very thankful that these individuals have brought a lot of attention to BCIs, but what I fear is that the public statements may give unrealistic expectations. It’s not going to be like you have a thought of what you want for dinner and you can send it to your roommate. These devices can provide some significant function, and possibly some enhancements, to people who have neurological injury, and then possibly in some small way this will trickle down to the general public. But we all need to be responsible in how we talk about it.”

Biotech can help us stay young while growing old
5. Aging Problems: David Sinclair, director of Harvard’s Center for the Biology of Aging “[In my lab] we’ve been working on the molecule NAD. We published in Cell in March that by raising NAD levels we could rapidly reverse many aspects of aging in mice. [We gave] old mice the ability to run like young mice again and actually out-compete young mice. That was happening because there was improved blood flow throughout the animal. The molecule that we used is called NMN. We put that in the water supply, and after just a week we saw an increase in endurance. We’re excited about this breakthrough because it shows that we understand why we lose blood flow as we get older, and why we get tired and feel frail. But it also shows that we have a very quick way of reversing that. You could imagine people who are tired, wheelchair-bound, or even bedridden, having energy to get out and exercise again.” “Next year we’ll hopefully be reporting on a project that we started 10 years ago. We are looking at reprogramming cells to make them young again. We think we found an underlying cause of aging, and we’re able to dial that forwards and to some extent backwards. “I think the public doesn’t realize how advanced this technology is and how many investors and companies are also involved. It believed that the 2019 is a watershed year for this field. Just so many things are converging. 

The science, the business side, the clinical trials reporting out, and the general interest from the public — all of that means that in a year from now, we may find ourselves in one of the most interesting times in human history. It always takes a long time to get a lab result to humans, usually at least a decade, but it’s coming now. There’s really no question.” David Sinclair concluded.



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