Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News

AUG 2017

Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News (GEN) is the world's most widely read biotech publication. It provides the R&D community with critical information on the tools, technologies, and trends that drive the biotech industry.

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GEN ROUNDUP MaryAnn Labant Biomarkers are routinely measured and evaluated as indicators of normal biological processes, pathogenic processes, or pharmacological responses to a therapeu- tic intervention. Concomitant with the discovery and use of increasing numbers of biomarkers is the techno- logical need to detect these multitudes of proteins accu- rately and with increased sensitivity. Numerous emerg- ing techniques are focused on facilitating this process. In May, Cambridge Healthtech Institute's 13th An- nual Biomarkers and Immuno-Oncology World Con- gress brought together industry experts to discuss ad- vancements to drive innovation and collaboration in the rapidly developing field of biomarkers, diagnostics, Biomarker Platforms Advance Immuno-Oncology These developments have already culminated in the generation of synthetic viral, bacterial, and eukaryotic chromosomes. Going forward, we will continue to re- fine our skills in DNA synthesis, supporting the use of synthetic DNA in the study of biological processes. "We are always thinking about how to stay at the cutting edge of DNA synthesis and assembly technolo- gies," says Daniel G. Gibson, Ph.D., vice president of DNA Technologies at Synthetic Genomics, Inc. (SGI) and associate professor in the synthetic biology group at the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI). In 2004, when Dr. Gibson and colleagues resolved to synthesize bacte- rial genomes, generating even 5,000 base pairs of syn- thetic DNA was challenging. "Our goal at the time," recalls Dr. Gibson, "was to build something that was two orders of magnitude larger, and that required de- veloping brand-new methods." "We began [by] thinking of how to stitch together pieces of DNA to build large pieces, such as genetic pathways, bacterial chromosomes, and beyond," re- lates Dr. Gibson. One of the early efforts undertaken by Dr. Gibson's group made use of cellular extracts from Deinococcus radiodurans, a bacterium that can tolerate very high doses of ionizing radiation. It sustains dam- age but remains viable because it can rejoin fragmented chromosomal DNA. "Our idea," emphasizes Dr. Gibson, "was to somehow leverage see page 14 Richard A. Stein, M.D., Ph.D. Our DNA skills are lopsided: We are much better at dissecting DNA structure and organization than we are at synthesizing DNA. But our DNA skills are starting to become more balanced, now that we are benefitting from exponential decreases in the cost of oligonucleotide synthesis, dramatic improvements in technology, and the incorpora- tion of novel paradigms. DNA Fab Keeps Getting More Fab August 2017 Lights! Camera! Live-Cell Imaging! 8 Snake Organ Regeneration Research 4 Upping Peristaltic Pump Performance 22 see page 28 Angelo DePalma, Ph.D. Bench-scale bioreactors ranging in volume from about 2 L to 20 L have become indispensable as intermedi- ate-scale vessels for process development, scale-down troubleshooting or debottlenecking, generating char- acterization quantities of protein, and cell culture seed generation. Cultures amenable to benchtop-scale reflect current industry practice: batch, fed-batch, perfusion/ continuous cell culture, and the fermentation of micro- organisms. Stainless-steel benchtop bioreactors are still around, and single-use systems are gaining, but auto- clavable glass see-through bioreactors have become the industry standard. Industry has settled on three liters as the ideal scale to a significant degree because of its appropriateness for scale-down modeling. This size, in glass, is an offering from Applikon Biotechnology. "But not all mini-scale bioreactors, in the sub-2 L range, are suitable for this purpose," says John Poppleton, marketing director of the company. Applikon's MiniBio reactors range in size from the ubiquitous 3 L benchtop size and microbioreactors in the sub-100 mL size range. Applikon's autoclavable MiniBio products come in 250 mL, 500 mL, and 1000 mL sizes for 200 mL, 400 mL, and 800 mL working volumes, respectively. Applikon claims its mini-scale bioreactors are True to Scale: Benchtop Bioreactors see page 20 Leading the Way in Life Science Technologies Technology is increasingly improving researchers' ability to assemble complex DNA molecules from scratch. Vchal / Getty Images

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