Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News

OCT15 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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4 | OCTOBER 15, 2017 | | Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News STRI / Sean Mattson 140 Huguenot Street, New Rochelle, NY 10801- 5215 914 740 -2100 • PUBLISHER & CEO Mary Ann Liebert PRESIDENT, GEN Publishing Marianne Russell GEN GROUP PUBLISHER Sande Giaccone EVP, STRATEGIC DEVELOPMENT Kevin Davies, Ph.D. EDITOR IN CHIEF John Sterling M A N AG I N G E D I TO R Randi Hernandez P R O D U C T I O N E D I TO R Robert M. Reis S E N I O R E D I TO R Kevin Mayer T E C H N I C A L E D I TO R Patricia F. Dimond, Ph.D. T E C H N I C A L E D I TO R Jeffrey S. Buguliskis, Ph.D. S E N I O R N E W S E D I TO R Alex Philippidis C H I E F CO PY E D I TO R Steven Hernacki A R T D I R E C TO R James Lambo COMMERCIAL DIREC TOR Bill Levine ONLINE EDITORIAL SUPERVISOR Katherine Vuksanaj D I G I TA L P R O D U C T M A N AG E R Thomas Mathew W E B P R O D U C E R Melinda Kucsera S A L E S A D M I N I S T R ATO R Fallon Murphy GEN Editorial & Scientific Advisory Board Peter Banks, Ph.D., Scientific Director, BioTek Instruments; Roslyn Brandon, D.V.M., Ph.D., President and CEO, Immunexpress; Robert Clarke, Ph.D., President & CEO, Pulmatrix; Pete Gagnon, Project Director, Downstream Processing, Bioprocessing Technology Institute (Singapore); Uwe Gottschalk, Ph.D., CTO, Lonza Pharma & Biotech; Harry E. Gruber, M.D., CEO, Tocagen; Jin Seok Hur, Ph.D., Technology Director, Novasep; James Inglese, Ph.D., Principal Investigator, Division of Pre-Clinical Innovation, National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences NIH; Guenter Jagschies, Senior Director, GE Healthcare Life Sciences; Peter Johnson, M.D., Principal, MedSurgPI; Anis H. 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The acceptance of advertisements does not constitute an endorsement of the product or service advertised. Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News (ISSN-1935-472X) is published semimonthly except July, August, and December (twenty-one issues a year) by GEN Publishing, 140 Huguenot Street, 3rd Floor, New Rochelle, NY 10801-5215. Periodicals postage paid at New Rochelle, NY and at additional mailing offices. Postmaster: Send address changes to Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News, c/o Subscription Department, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., 140 Huguenot Street, 3rd Floor, New Rochelle, New York 10801-5215. Fax: 914 740-2201. Mailed in Canada under CPC CPM #40026674. Printed in the U.S.A. For subscription information go to: Copyright © 2017 by GEN Publishing, New Rochelle, NY. Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. is recognized as a Certified Woman-Owned Business by the Women's Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC). An international research team working at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) in Panama used CRISPR technology to genetically modify seven butterfly species. The team knocked out the WNTA gene amongst the sample, which is known to affect the pattern of the insects' wings. "Imagine a paint- by-number image of a butterfly," said Owen McMillan, Ph.D., staff scientist at STRI. "The instructions for coloring the wing are written in the genetic code. By deleting some of the instructions, we can infer which part says, 'paint the number twos red' or 'paint the number ones black.' Of course, it is a lot more complicated than this because what is actually changing are networks of genes that have a cascading effect on pattern and color." The team found that the WNTA gene contributes to different visual effects among the seven species tested. In Monarchs, it expresses as a fine line along the wing veins, whereas in Heliconius, it expresses as broad strokes throughout the wings. They also found that the gene affects coloration, as the color of a butterfly's wings is a product of both its pigmentation and its physical structure. Paint-by-Numbers Butterflies Researchers from the University of Adelaide in Australia have found a new link between the brain's immune system and the desire to drink alcohol in the evening. In laboratory studies using mice, scientists switched off the impulse to drink alcohol by giving mice (+)-Naltrexone, which blocks immune receptor Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) in the brain. The study, published in Brain, Behavior and Immunity, reportedly is one of the first of its kind to show a link between the brain's immune function and the motivation to drink alcohol in the evening. "Alcohol is the world's most commonly consumed drug, and there is a greater need than ever to understand the biological mechanisms that drive our need to drink alcohol," says lead author Jon Jacobsen, a Ph.D. student in the University of Adelaide's discipline of pharmacology. "Our body's circadian rhythms affect the 'reward' sig- nals we receive in the brain from drug-related behavior, and the peak time for this reward typically occurs during the evening, or dark phase. We wanted to test what the role of the brain's immune system might have on that reward, and whether or not we could switch it off. Our studies showed a significant reduction in alcohol-drinking behavior by mice that had been given (+)-Naltrexone, specifically at night time when the reward for drug-related behavior is usually at its greatest." For many, just the thought of rats—even rats that are sleeping peacefully—is a nightmare. Yet, for researchers at NYU, monitoring the slumbering rodents for signs of bad dreams is business as usu- al. The scientists think they may have potentially stumbled upon how these animals process scary emotions. Rats placed in a maze received a short burst of air to the face at a specific point within the labyrinth. When the animals were later monitored while sleep- ing, researchers detected patterns of connectivity in the rodents' hippocampi. More importantly, however, the scientists saw activity within the amygdala, which is involved in emotion, whenever the rats recalled the air blast that frightened them. Imagine the night- mare they would've experienced had a cat chased them! Nightmare on Rat Street The ability of adolescents to consider the inten- tions of others—the concept of fairness—has been linked to changes in the structure of their brains in a recent study published in in Scien- tific Reports. Participants between ages 9 and 23 played an ultimatum game based on the exchange of money. Researchers used computa- tional modeling to assess how participants used two cognitive strategies, then investigated how these processes correlated with measurements of participants' cortical thickness obtained via MRIs. Younger players were likelier to minimize differ- ences in the way money was divided amongst participants. But as players became older, they were more inclined to consider the other play- ers' intentions in the game. That shift coincided with cortical thinning, specifically in areas of the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex and posterior tem- poral cortex. "This work provides converging evi- dence in line with other research that the compu- tation of inferring intentions is processed in the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex," said Luke Chang, Ph.D., the study's senior author and director of the Computational Social Affective Neuroscience Laboratory at Dartmouth College. jinjo0222988 / Getty Images Brain Change Explains Teens' Sense of Fairness Sticky Ends ... Immune System Linked to Impulse to Drink Alcohol in the Evening PeopleImages / Getty Images

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