Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News

DEC 2018

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 | DECEMBER 2018 | Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News | GENengnews.com Scientists have pinpointed the genetic basis that explains why some thoroughbred racehorses are better equipped to race over sprint distances and others over longer distances. The scientists, from Trinity College Dublin and University College Dublin (UCD), have discovered the inner workings of a "speed gene" known to directly a‡ect skeletal muscle growth and, in turn, race distance aptitude. Thoroughbred horses are ˆnely tuned athletes with a high aerobic capacity relative to their skeletal muscle mass, which can be attributed to centuries of genetic selection for speed and stamina. Nongenetic factors such as variation in training schedule can also inŠuence how racehorse distance aptitudes and preferences develop, but prior work by UCD professor Emmeline Hill, Ph.D., had demonstrated that polymorphisms of the myostatin gene, a pronounced inhibitor of skeletal muscle growth, almost singularly account for gene-based race distance aptitude in racehorses. This prior discovery earned the myostatin gene the moniker of speed gene. Horses with CC copies of the gene tend to develop into sprinters; those with CT copies tend to develop into middle-distance performers; and those with TT copies tend to be best equipped for long distances. However, until now, scientists didn't know which element(s) of the gene held the secrets to understanding the all-important racing distance preference. In the new study, in PLoS One, the scientists pinpointed the speciˆc noncoding section of the speed gene that is exclusively responsible for limiting myostatin protein production in thoroughbreds and thereby inŠuencing skeletal muscle development and race distance aptitude. John P Kelly / Getty Images 140 Huguenot Street, New Rochelle, NY 10801- 5215 914 740 -2100 • GENengnews.com 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 editor@GENengnews.com 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 Je"rey S. Buguliskis, Ph.D. S E N I O R N E W S E D I TO R Alex Philippidis S E N I O R S C I E N C E W R I T E R Julianna LeMieux, Ph.D. C H I E F CO PY E D I TO R Steven Hernacki E U R O P E A N CO R R E S P O N D E N T Sophia Ktori A R T D I R E C TO R James Lambo P R O D U C T I O N E D I TO R Robert M. 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All advertisements are subject to review by the Publisher. 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 o«ces. 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: www.GENengnews.com/subscription-center Copyright © 2018 by GEN Publishing, New Rochelle, NY. Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. is recognized as a Certiˆed Woman-Owned Business by the Women's Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC). GENengnews.com LaesaMajestas - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=67115350 Wisps of steam rise from the ground and drift past the abandoned roads of Centralia, PA, a former mining town devastated by a decades-old coal seam ˆre. Though Centralia has lost its human inhabitants, it currently teems with heat- loving soil microbes. These microbes, say Michigan State University scientists, don't appear to be new arrivals or newly evolved organisms. Instead, they appear to be locals that are ˆnding it advantageous to have small genomes. Writing in Nature Microbiology, the Michigan scientists noted that earlier studies found that small genomes are common in thermophiles. These studies were limited to samples taken from stable geothermal features. The new study, however, comes from the accidental laboratory that is Centralia, and it allows us to look at what may happen in regions that suddenly shift to warm conditions. As climate change progresses, once-dormant organisms in the soil and water may decide that their time has come. A Slow Burn Favors Small Genomes Both gene therapy and immuno- therapy have one ˆnal hurdle to overcome: the cell membrane. To deliver therapeutics into living cells, several techniques have been developed, including traditional electroporation and viral-vector delivery. But at Stanford University, researchers have been developing "nanostraws" for over ˆve years. According to a paper recently published in Science Advances, the team was able to deliver an mRNA payload into human and mouse cells with >95% cell viability. The platform, called a nanostraw-elec- troporation system (NES), was able to deliver lipofectamine to into >100,000 cells in only 20 seconds. This compared with several days using other methods. The next step for the team is to experiment with the platform on human im- mune cells—which have some of the toughest cell membranes out there—to dramatically speed up biotherapeutic production. The Straw That Broke the Cell's Back How the "Speed Gene" Works in Race Horses Sticky Ends...

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