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The Cancer Gene Therapy Research Team | Kids Research

> Dr Geoffrey McCowage, Cancer Gene Therapy Group Leader

Geoffisa Paediatric Oncologist at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead and a member of Sydney Cell and Gene Therapy (SCGT). He is a Principal Investigator for clinical trialswithin the Children’s Oncology Group. He has a particular clinical interest in neuro-oncology and sarcomas of bone and soft tissue. Dr McCowage leads the clinicaland translational researchof the Cancer Gene Therapy group.

> Dr Belinda Kramer,Cancer Gene Therapy Group Co-Leader, email: belinda.kramer@health.nsw.gov.au

Belinda is a senior research scientist and leadslaboratory research within the Cancer Gene Therapy Group. She is also a member of Sydney Cell and Gene Therapy (SCGT) and highly experienced in genetransfer techniquesand cell therapies.

> Dr Kenneth Hsu, Senior Post-doctoral Research Officer, Cancer Gene Therapy Group Co-Leader, email: kenneth.hsu@health.nsw.gov.au

Ken is an experienced post-doctoral scientist working on the development of novel vectors for gene modification of T cells to target tumours and the development of clinically applicable T cell manufacturing methodology for the project.

> Other Research Team Members

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The Cancer Gene Therapy Research Team | Kids Research

Recommendation and review posted by sam

iPS Cell Therapy: Is Japan the Market Leader?

Although there are key players in markets like the U.S., Australia, and the EU, Japan continues to accelerates its position as a hub for induced pluripotent stem cell (iPS cell) therapy with generous funding, acquisitions, and strategic partnerships.

Pluripotent stem cells are cells that are capable of developing into any type of cell or tissue in the human body. These cells have the capability to replicate and help in repairing damaged tissues within the body. In 2006, the Japanese scientist Shinya Yamanaka demonstrated that an ordinary cell can be turned into a pluripotent cell by genetic modification. These genetically reprogrammed cells are known as induced pluripotent cells, also called iPS cells or iPSCs.

An induced pluripotent stem cell (iPS cell) is a type of pluripotent stem cell that has the capacity to divide indefinitely and create any cell found within the three germ layers of an organism. These layers include the ectoderm (cells giving rise to the skin and nervous system), endoderm (cells forming gastrointestinal and respiratory tracts, endocrine gland, liver, and pancreas), and mesoderm (cells forming bones, cartilage, most of the circulatory system, muscles, connective tissues, and other related tissues.).

iPS cells have significant potential for therapeutic applications. For autologous applications, the cells are extracted from the patients own body, making them genetically identical to the patient and eliminating the issues associated with tissue matching and tissue rejection.

iPS cells have the potential to be used to treat a wide range of diseases, including diabetes, heart diseases, autoimmune diseases, and neural complications, such as Parkinsons disease, Alzheimers disease.

Over the past few years, Japan has accelerated its position as a hub for regenerative medicine research, largely driven by support from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe who has identified regenerative medicine and cellular therapy as key to the Japans strategy to drive economic growth.

The Prime Minister has encouraged a growing range of collaborations between private industry and academic partners through an innovative legal framework approved last fall.

He has also initiated campaigns to drive technological advances in drugs and devices by connecting private companies with public funding sources. The result has been to drive progress in both basic and applied research involving induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells) and related stem cell technologies.

2013 was a landmark year in Japan, because it saw the first cellular therapy involving transplant of iPS cells into humans initiated at the RIKEN Center in Kobe, Japan.[1]Led by Masayo Takahashi of theRIKEN Center for Developmental Biology (CDB).Dr. Takahashi and her team wereinvestigating the safety of iPSC-derived cell sheets in patients with wet-type age-related macular degeneration.

To speed things along, RIKEN did not seek permission for a clinical trial involving iPS cells, but instead applied for a type of pretrial clinical research allowed under Japanese regulations.The RIKEN Center is Japans largest, most comprehensive research institution, backed by both Japans Health Ministry and government.

This pretrial clinical research allowed the RIKEN research team to test the use of iPS cells for the treatment of wet-type age-related macular degeneration (AMD) on a very small scale, in only a handful of patients.Unfortunately, the study was suspended in 2015 due to safety concerns. As the lab prepared to treat the second trial participant, Yamanakas team identified two small genetic changes in the patients iPSCs and the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) cells derived from them.

However, in June 2016 RIKEN Institute announced that it would be resuming the clinical study involving the use of iPSC-derived cellsin humans.According to theJapan Times, this second attempt at the clinical studyis using allogeneic rather than autologous iPSC-derived cells, because of the greater cost and time efficiencies.

Specifically,the researchers will be developing retinal tissues from iPS cells supplied by Kyoto Universitys Center for iPS Cell Research and Application, an institution headed by Nobel prize winner Shinya Yamanaka.

Japan has a unique affection for iPS cells, as the cells were originally discovered by the Japanese scientist, Shinya Yamanaka of Kyoto University. Mr. Yamanaka was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for 2012, an honor shared jointly with John Gurdon, for the discovery that mature cells can be reprogrammed to become pluripotent.

In addition, Japans Education Ministry said its planning to spend 110 billion yen ($1.13 billion) on induced pluripotent stem cell research during the next 10 years, and the Japanese parliament has been discussing bills that would speed the approval process and ensure the safety of such treatments.[3]

In April, Japanese parliament even passed a law calling for Japan to make regenerative medical treatments like iPSC technology available for its citizens ahead of the rest of the world.[4] If those forces were not enough, Masayo Takahashi of the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology in Kobe, Japan, who is heading the worlds first clinical research using iPSCs in humans, was also chosen by the journal Natureas one of five scientists to watch in 2014.[5]

Clearly, Japan is the global leader in iPS cell technologies and therapies. However, progress with stem cells has not been without setbacks within Japan, including a recent scandal at the RIKEN Institute that involved falsely manipulated research findings and a hold on the first clinical trial involving transplant of an iPS cell product into humans.

Nonetheless, Japan has emerged from these troubles to become the most liberalized nation pursuing the development of iPS cell products and services.

iPS cells represent one of the most promising advances within the field of stem cell research, because of their diverse ability to differentiate into any of the approximately 200 cell types that compose the human body.

Even though there is growing evidence to support the safety of iPS cells within cell therapy applications,some people remain concerned that patients who receive implants of iPS derived cells might be at risk of cancer, as genetic manipulation is required to create the cell type.

In a world-first, Cynata Therapeutics (ASX:CYP) received approval in September 2016 to launch a clinical trial in the UK with the worlds first first formal clinical trial of an allogeneic iPSC-derived cell product, which it calls CYP-001.The study involves centers in both the UK and Australia.

In this landmark trial, the Australian regenerative medicine company is testing an iPS cell-derived mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) product for the treatment of Graft-vs-Host-Disease (GvHD).Not surprisingly, the Japanese conglomerate Fujifilm is also involved with this historic trial.

Headquartered in Tokyo, Fujifilm is one of the largest players in regenerative medicine field and has invested significantly into stem cells through their acquisition of Cellular Dynamics International (CDI). Additionally, Fujifilm has invested in Japan Tissue Engineering Co. Ltd. (J-Tec), giving it a broad base in regenerative medicine across multiple therapeutic areas.

For a young company like Cynata, having validation from an industry giant like Fujifilm is a huge boost. As stated by Cynata CEO, Dr. Ross Macdonald, The decision by Fujifilm confirms that our technology is very exciting in their eyes. It is a useful yardstick for other investors as well. Of course, the effect of the relationship with Fujifilm on our balance sheet is also important.

If Fujifilm exercises their option to license Cynatas GvHD product, then the costs of the product and commercialization will become the responsibility of Fujifilm. Cynata would also receive milestone payments from Fujifilm of approximately $60M AUS and a double-digit royalty payment.

Cynata was also the first to scale-up manufacture of an allogeneic cGMP iPS celll line. It sourced the cell line from Cellular Dynamics International (CDI) when CDI was still an independent company listed on NASDAQ. In April 2015, CDI was subsequently acquired by Fujifilm, who as mentioned, is a major shareholder in Cynata and its strategic partner for GvHD.

Although Cynata is showing promising early-stage data from its GvHD trial, methods for commercializing iPS cells are still being explored and clinical studies investigating iPS cells remain extremely low in number.

Footnotes[1] Dvorak, K. (2014).Japan Makes Advance on Stem-Cell Therapy [Online]. Available at: http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424127887323689204578571363010820642. Web. 14 Apr. 2015.[2] Note: In the United States, some patients have been treated with retina cells derived from embryonic stem cells (ESCs) to treat macular degeneration. There was a successful patient safety test for this stem cell treatment last year that was conducted at the Jules Stein Eye Institute in Los Angeles. The ESC-derived cells used for this study were developed by Advanced Cell Technology, Inc, a company located in Marlborough, Massachusetts.[3] Dvorak, K. (2014).Japan Makes Advance on Stem-Cell Therapy [Online]. Available at: http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424127887323689204578571363010820642. Web. 8 Apr. 2015.[4] Ibid.[5] Riken.jp. (2014).RIKEN researcher chosen as one of five scientists to watch in 2014 | RIKEN [Online]. Available at: http://www.riken.jp/en/pr/topics/2014/20140107_1/. Web. 14 Apr. 2015.

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iPS Cell Therapy: Is Japan the Market Leader?

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A Crispr Conundrum: How Cells Fend Off Gene Editing – The …

Human cells resist gene editing by turning on defenses against cancer, ceasing reproduction and sometimes dying, two teams of scientists have found.

The findings, reported in the journal Nature Medicine, at first appeared to cast doubt on the viability of the most widely used form of gene editing, known as Crispr-Cas9 or simply Crispr, sending the stocks of some biotech companies into decline on Monday.

Crispr Therapeutics fell by 13 percent shortly after the scientists announcement. Intellia Therapeutics dipped, too, as did Editas Medicine. All three are developing medical treatments based on Crispr.

But the scientists who published the research say that Crispr remains a promising technology, if a bit more difficult than had been known.

The reactions have been exaggerated, said Jussi Taipale, a biochemist at the University of Cambridge and an author of one of two papers published Monday. The findings underscore the need for more research into the safety of Crispr, he said, but they dont spell its doom.

This is not something that should stop research on Crispr therapies, he said. I think its almost the other way we should put more effort into such things.

Crispr has stirred strong feelings ever since it came to light as a gene-editing technology five years ago. Already, its a mainstay in the scientific tool kit.

The possibilities have led to speculations about altering the human race and bringing extinct species back to life. Crisprs pioneers have already won a slew of prizes, and titanic battles over patent rights to the technology have begun.

To edit genes with Crispr, scientists craft molecules that enter the nucleus of a cell. They zero in on a particular stretch of DNA and slice it out.

The cell then repairs the two loose ends. If scientists add another piece of DNA, the cell may stitch it into the place where the excised gene once sat.

Recently, Dr. Taipale and his colleagues set out to study cancer. They used Crispr to cut out genes from cancer cells to see which were essential to cancers aggressive growth.

For comparison, they also tried to remove genes from ordinary cells in this case, a line of cells that originally came from a human retina. But while it was easy to cut genes from the cancer cells, the scientists did not succeed with the retinal cells.

Such failure isnt unusual in the world of gene editing. But Dr. Taipale and his colleagues decided to spend some time to figure out why exactly they were failing.

They soon discovered that one gene, p53, was largely responsible for preventing Crispr from working.

p53 normally protects against cancer by preventing mutations from accumulating in cellular DNA. Mutations may arise when a cell tries to fix a break in its DNA strand. The process isnt perfect, and the repair may be faulty, resulting in a mutation.

When cells sense that the strand has broken, the p53 gene may swing into action. It can stop a cell from making a new copy of its genes. Then the cell may simply stop multiplying, or it may die. This helps protect the body against cancer.

If a cell gets a mutation in the p53 gene itself, however, the cell loses the ability to police itself for faulty DNA. Its no coincidence that many cancer cells carry disabled p53 genes.

Dr. Taipale and his colleagues engineered retinal cells to stop using p53 genes. Just as they had predicted, Crispr now worked much more effectively in these cells.

A team of scientists at the Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research in Cambridge, Mass., got similar results with a different kind of cells, detailed in a paper also published Monday.

They set out to develop new versions of Crispr to edit the DNA in stem cells. They planned to turn the stem cells into neurons, enabling them to study brain diseases in Petri dishes.

Someday, they hope, it may become possible to use Crispr to create cell lines that can be implanted in the body to treat diseases.

When the Novartis team turned Crispr on stem cells, however, most of them died. The scientists found signs that Crispr had caused p53 to switch on, so they shut down the p53 gene in the stem cells.

Now many of the stem cells survived having their DNA edited.

The authors of both studies say their results raise some concerns about using Crispr to treat human disease.

For one thing, the anticancer defenses in human cells could make Crispr less efficient than researchers may have hoped.

One way to overcome this hurdle might be to put a temporary brake on p53. But then extra mutations may sneak into our DNA, perhaps leading to cancer.

Another concern: Sometimes cells spontaneously acquire a mutation that disables the p53 gene. If scientists use Crispr on a mix of cells, the ones with disabled p53 cells are more likely to be successfully edited.

But without p53, these edited cells would also be more prone to gaining dangerous mutations.

One way to eliminate this risk might be to screen engineered cells for mutant p53 genes. But Steven A. McCarroll, a geneticist at Harvard University, warned that Crispr might select for other risky mutations.

These are important papers, since they remind everyone that genome editing isnt magic, said Jacob E. Corn, scientific director of the Innovative Genomics Institute in Berkeley, Calif.

Crispr doesnt simply rewrite DNA like a word processing program, Dr. Corn said. Instead, it breaks DNA and coaxes cells to put it back together. And some cells may not tolerate such changes.

While Dr. Corn said that rigorous tests for safety were essential, he doubted that the new studies pointed to a cancer risk from Crispr.

The particular kinds of cells that were studied in the two new papers may be unusually sensitive to gene editing. Dr. Corn said he and his colleagues have not found similar problems in their own research on bone marrow cells.

We have all been looking for the possibility of cancer, he said. I dont think that this is a warning for therapies.

We should definitely be cautious, said George Church, a geneticist at Harvard and a founding scientific adviser at Editas.

He suspected that p53s behavior would not translate into any real risk of cancer, but its a valid concern.

And those concerns may be moot in a few years. The problem with Crispr is that it breaks DNA strands. But Dr. Church and other researchers are now investigating ways of editing DNA without breaking it.

Were going to have a whole new generation of molecules that have nothing to do with Crispr, he said. The stock market isnt a reflection of the future.

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A Crispr Conundrum: How Cells Fend Off Gene Editing – The …

Recommendation and review posted by Jack Burke

Hormone Health Course – 6 Month Program

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Easily guide clients through plans designed to support the health and balance of the thyroid, adrenals, liver, and gut, so you can help them achieve the good health they desire.

Supplemental materials in every module including handouts, skill building activities, and reference materials help you refer back to important concepts, apply what you learn to real life experiences, test your knowledge, and get the most out of this essential course.

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Hormone Health Course – 6 Month Program

Recommendation and review posted by Rebecca Evans

Cell Therapy Companies – BioInformant

Cell therapy companies have been rapidly populating over the past few years, making the cell therapy market a high-value, fast-growth market. Key drivers for the market include high rates of cell therapy clinical trials, accelerated pathways for cell therapy product approvals, new technologies to support cell therapy manufacturing, and the potential for cell therapies to revolutionize healthcare.

Additionally, the market gained recent momentum when the Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis made history as the first company to win FDA approval for a CAR-T cell therapy in the U.S. in August 2017 (Kymriah).In October 2017, Kite Pharma became the second company to get FDA approval of a CAR-T cell therapy (Yescarta).

These historic events demonstrate to investors, the public and funding providers alike that cell therapy is a market that has emerged, no longer one that is evolving in the future.Today, there are nearly 40 companies developing redirected T cells or NK cells for therapeutic use. There are nearly 70 companies developing stem cell therapeutics (45% of all cell therapy companies). Finally, direct cell reprogramming is gaining popularity as a therapeutic strategy, because of its safety and efficacy advantages.

Because of this rapid market growth, BioInformant has released a global database featuring 150+ cell therapy companies worldwide. It was originally developed in-house for our own purposes, but we have had more and moreclients requesting access to it. For this reason, we updated and expanded it with additional company details. Now, we have officially launched it to the public.

Cell Therapy Companies CAR-T, CAR-NK, Stem Cells, Direct Reprogramming

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Cell Therapy Companies – BioInformant

Recommendation and review posted by simmons

iPS Cell Therapy – Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy

iPS Cells and Therapeutic Applications for Duchenne

We are currently in the optimization/validation phase of pre-clinical development.

This research is being done in the lab of Dr. Rita Perlingeiro at the University of Minnesota, in partnership with the University of Minnesota Center for Translational Medicine and the Molecular and Cellular Therapeutics Facility. This work is currently funded by the Department of Defense (DoD).

Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS) are adult cells that have been reprogrammed to an embryonic stem cell-like state.There has been tremendous excitement for the therapeutic potential of iPS cells in treating genetic diseases. Our current research builds on our successful proof-of-principle studies for Duchenne performed with mouse wild-type and dystrophic iPS cells as well as control (healthy) human iPS cells. These studies demonstrate equivalent functional myogenic engraftment to that observed with their embryonic counterparts following their transplantation into dystrophic mice.

Our goal now is to apply this technology to clinical grade GMP-compliant iPS cells, and generate a cell product, iPS-derived myogenic progenitors, that can be delivered to muscular dystrophy patients.

Optimization of methodology, characterization of cell product, scalability with GMP-compliant method, followed by safety and efficacy studies. Once these have been achieved, we will be ready to move into a clinical trial.

2-3 years (it depends largely on how much funding we have available to conduct these studies).

University of Minnesota

In the first phase, adults with confirmed diagnosis of Duchenne (> 18 years old).

You can learn more about this research at the website for Dr. Perlingeiros lab: http://www.med.umn.edu/lhi/research/PerlingeiroLab/index.htm

http://www.ClinicalTrials.gov will post all clinical trials once they are actively recruiting patients.

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iPS Cell Therapy – Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy

Recommendation and review posted by Bethany Smith

BioTE Medical – Official Site

A simpler question is how do you know if your hormones aren’t balanced? You will likely feel unwell and not be able to figure out why. The practitioners certified by BioTE Medical have seen the life-changing results time and time again; balanced hormones can change your life.

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Hormone pellets release bio-identical hormones into the bloodstream continuously. These are tiny pellets just under the skin, typically placed in the upper hip. BHRT pellets are smaller than a grain of rice and are consistently effective for between 3 and 6 months.

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BioTE Medical – Official Site

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GeneHero CRISPR Products and Services | Genecopoeia

GeneCopoeia’s GeneHero CRISPR-Cas9 products and services provide a complete, powerful solution to your genome editing needs. Products and services include:

CRISPR Plasmids. Transfect cells with our CRISPR plasmids with Cas9 and sgRNA for human, mouse, and rat. Search our database of more than 45,000 human, mouse, and rat genes for genome editing using CRISPR.

CRISPR Lentivirus.Genome integration of CRISPR elements using lentivirus. Cas9 and/or sgRNA packed in purified lentiviral particles at 108 TU/ml, ready to infect all cell types.

CRISPR AAV.Episomal expression of CRISPR components with adeno-associated viralparticles carrying Cas9 and/or sgRNA, excellent for tissue and animal transduction.

Cas9 Stable Cell Lines.Premade Cas9-expressing stable cell lines are great for sgRNA library screening and other high-throughput CRISPR-Cas9 applications.

The clustered, regularly interspaced, short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) system is bacterial immunity mechanism for defense against invading viruses and transposons. This system has been adapted for highly efficient genome editing in many organisms. Compared with earlier genome editing technologies such as zinc finger nucleases (ZFNs) and transcription activator-like effector nucleases (TALENs), CRISPR-Casmediated gene targeting has similar or greater efficiency. Genome editing has been used for numerous applications, as shown in Table 1.

Table 1. Applications for CRISPR-mediated genome editing.

In the type II CRISPR systems, the complex of a CRISPR RNA (crRNA) annealed to a trans-activating crRNA (tracrRNA) guides the Cas9 endonuclease to a specific genomic sequence, thereby generating double-strand breaks (DSBs) in target DNA. This system has been simplified by fusing crRNA and tracrRNA sequences to produce a synthetic, chimeric single-guided RNA (sgRNA). The sgRNA contains within it a 20 nucleotide DNA recognition sequence (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Mechanism of CRISPR-Cas9-sgRNA target recognition and cleavage.

When the Cas9-sgRNA complex encounters this target sequence in the genome followed by a 3 nucleotide NGG PAM (protospacer adjacent sequence) site, the complex binds to the DNA strand complementary to the target site. Next, the Cas9 nuclease creates a site-specific double-strand break (DSB) 3-4 nucleotides 5′ to the PAM. DSBs are repaired by either non-homologous end joining (NHEJ), which is error-prone, and can lead to frameshift mutations, or by homologous recombination (HR) in the presence of a repair template (Figure 2).

Figure 2.CRISPR-Cas9-based gene engineering. Left. DSBs created by sgRNA-guided Cas9-mediated cleavage are repaired by NHEJ. Right. DSBs created by sgRNA-guided Cas9 nuclease are repaired homologous recombination between sequences flanking the DSB site, thereby causing “knock in” of sequences on a donor DNA.

While the CRISPR system provides a highly efficient means for carrying out genome editing applications, it is prone to causing off-target indel mutations. Off-targeting is caused by the ability of the Cas9- sgRNA complex to bind to chromosomal DNA targets with one or more mismatches, or non-Watson-Crick complementary. The propensity of CRISPR for off-target modification is a significant concern for some researchers who want to avoid results that are potentially confounded by off-target modification, as well as for those who might be interested in developing CRISPR for gene therapy applications.

Several strategies have been employed to mitigate CRISPR’s propensity for off-target genome modification. One such strategy is to use double nickases to create DSBs. The Cas9 D10A mutant is able to cleave only one DNA strand, thereby creating a “nick”. When two sgRNAs that bind on opposite strands flanking the target are introduced, two Cas9 D10A nickase molecules together create a staggered-cut DSB, which is then repaired by either NHEJ or HR (Figure 3). The double nickase strategy has been shown to greatly reduce the frequency of off-target modification. However, double nickases are limited in utility by design constraints; the sgRNAs must be on opposite strands, in opposite orientation to one another, and display optimal activity when spaced from 3-20 nucleotides apart. In addition, the cleavage activity of double nickases tends to be lower than that of standard Cas9-sgRNA. Further, nickases can still cause some degree of off-target indel formation.

Figure 3. General scheme of Cas9 double-nickase strategy. From Ran, et al. (2013). Two additional strategies, the use of truncated (17-18 nucleotide) sgRNAs, as well as a Cas9-FokI fusion, also dramatically reduce CRISPR-mediated off-target genome modification. However, these methods suffer from even further reductions in on-target activity and/or more severe design constraints compared with the double nickase approach.

Recently, two groups demonstrated that engineering Cas9 variants carrying 3-4 amino acid changes virtually eliminates CRISPR off-target genome modification. These variants still retain high on-target activity, without the design constraints of previous approaches, providing a promising alternative for high-fidelity CRISPR-mediated genome editing.

Watch recorded webinar / Download slides Title: Genome Editing: How Do I Use CRISPR? Presented Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Genome Editing-the ability to make specific changes at targeted genomic sites-is fundamentally important to researchers in biology and medicine. CRISPR is a very widely-used method for modifying specific genome sites, and can be used for many applications, including gene knock out, transgene knock in, gene tagging, and correction of genetic defects. However, researchers are often unaware of some of the work required to identify their desired modification in their cell lines. In this webinar, we discuss what you need to do for CRISPR genome editing after you have obtained your reagents from GeneCopoeia, the so-called Downstream work.

Watch recorded webinar / Download slides Title: GeneCopoeia CRISPR Genome Editing Technology Presented Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The ability to make specific changes at targeted genomic sites in complex organisms is fundamentally important to researchers in biology and medicine. Researchers have developed and refined chimeric DNA endonucleases, such as CRISPR-Cas9, to stimulate double strand breaks at defined genomic loci, allowing the ability to insert, delete, and replace genetic information at will. These tools can also be used without nucleases to induce or repress gene transcription. In this webinar, we discuss CRISPR and other genome editing technologies and the applications they make possible, and provide information on GeneCopoeia’s powerful suite of genome editing products and services.

Watch recorded webinar / Download slides Title: Applications For CRISPR-Cas9 Stable Cell Lines Presented Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The CRISPR-Cas9 system has become greatly popular for genome editing in recent years, due to its ease-of-design, efficiency, specificity, and relatively low cost. In mammalian cell culture systems, most genome editing is achieved using transient transfection or lentiviral transduction, which works well for routine, low-throughput applications. However, for other applications, it would be beneficial to have a system in which one component, namely the CRISPR-Cas9 nuclease, was stably integrated into the genome. In this webinar, we introduce GeneCopoeias suite of Cas9 stable cell lines, and discuss the great utility that these cell lines provide for genome editing applications.

Watch recorded webinar / Download slides Title: Safe Harbor Transgenesis in Human & Mouse Genome Editing Presented Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Insertion of transgenes in mammalian chromosomes is an important approach for biomedical research and targeted gene therapy. Traditional lentiviral-mediated transgenesis is effective and straightforward, but its random integration can often be unstable and harm cells. “Safe Harbor” sites in human and mouse chromosomes have been employed recently as an alternative to random, viral-mediated integration because they support consistent, stable expression, and are not known to hamper cell fitness or growth. In this webinar, we will discuss the merits of Safe harbor transgenesis approaches, and how GeneCopoeia’s CRISPR tools for Safe Harbor knock-in can greatly benefit your research.

Watch recorded webinar / Download slides Title: GeneCopoeia CRISPR sgRNA Libraries For Functional Genomics Presented Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Biomedical researchers are enjoying a Renaissance in functional genomics, which aims to use a wealth of DNA sequence informationmost notably, the complete sequence of the human genometo determine the natural roles of the genes encoded by the genome. As a result, biochemical networks and pathways will be better understood, with the hope of leading to improved disease treatments. Researchers are turning increasingly to CRISPR (clustered, regularly interspaced, short palindromic repeats) for functional genomics studies. Several groups recently adapted CRISPR for high-throughput knockout applications, by developing large-scale CRISPR sgRNA libraries. GeneCopoeia recently launched a number of smaller, pathway- and gene group-focused CRISPR sgRNA libraries, which offer several key advantages over the whole-genome libraries. In this 40 minute webinar, we discuss the merits and applications for CRISPR sgRNA libraries, how to use CRISPR sgRNA libraries, the advantages of using small, pathway- and gene group-focused libraries, and how GeneCopoeia can help you with your high-throughput CRISPR knockout studies.

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Answer:If you are doing simple gene knockouts in humans or mice, you can order CRISPR sgRNAs on our website. All you need to do is go to the , search for your gene, and then choose the appropriate clones that will work for your system. These CRISPR sgRNAs are designed by default to knock out all possible known and predicted transcript variants of your gene, and are targeted early in the coding regions. You can also order donor clones for these knockouts from the search results page. If you are doing a different application, such as introducing a point mutation, then you will need to and, after determining what you need, we will send you a custom quote.

Answer:For sgRNA clones (including both all-in-one Cas9/sgRNA clones and sgRNA-only clones, the default delivery format is bacterial stock. You have the option of ordering purified DNA for these clones for an additional charge. For HDR donor clones, the default delivery format is purified DNA.

Answer:The turnaround time for sgRNA clones (including both all-in-one Cas9/sgRNA clones and sgRNA-only clones) is 2-3 weeks. The turnaround time for HDR donor clones depends greatly on the nature of the modification that the clone is being used for. For HDR donor clones used for simple knockout, the turnaround time is 2-4 weeks. Other HDR donor clones, such as those used for fusion tagging or mutagenesis, can take 6-8 weeks, but can also take longer.

Answer:Yes. We sequence the inserts of each CRISPR sgRNA clone, and provide you with datasheets that show the full sequence of each clone (including HDR donor clones), a map, restriction enzyme digestions sites, and suggested sequencing primers. To obtain these datasheets, you just need to visit our on our website. You will need an account on our website, your catalog number(s), and your sales order number.

Answer:In the presence of drug, the only way for cells to survive is to integrate the plasmid into the chromosome, so it is possible to get drug-resistant clones that were only transfected with the donor plasmid. However, such integration is random. CRISPR increases donor targeting frequency by several orders of magnitude.

Answer:Our genome editing products can be used for virtually all species. Our standard plasmids for CRISPR are designed for work in mammalian cells. In addition, these plasmids can be used as templates for T7 promoter-driven in vitro transcription, for introduction into mice, zebrafish, Drosophila, and many other model organisms. Further, we can generate custom constructs that can be used in a wide variety of organisms.

Answer:Yes. The donor must be present when the DSB is formed in order to be used as a repair template. Otherwise, the cell must use non-homologous end joining (NHEJ) in order to repair the DSB, because unrepaired DSBs are lethal.

Answer:Our CRISPR plasmids typically do not integrate into the host genome in transfection experiments. However, after clonal selection for edited cells, we recommend screening clones for those which have lost the nuclease plasmids. This can be done by testing clones to see if they have become sensitive to the antibiotic of the resistance gene on the plasmid, or if they no longer express the plasmid’s fluorescent marker (where applicable). Our lentiviral clones are expected to integrate randomly into chromosomes.

1. If you are making an insertion or deletion, the easiest way to screen your cells is by PCR using primers flanking the modified site, provided that the insertion or deletion is large enough to detect by standard agarose gel electrophoresis.

2. For very small insertions or deletions, you can screen your clones using GeneCopoeia’s IndelCheck T7 endonuclease I assay, which is a method that detects mutations by cleaving double stranded DNA containing a mismatch. You can also screen using Sanger sequencing of PCR products.

3. If you are introducing a point mutation, then you can use either real-time PCR or Sanger sequencing to detect the modification.

4. If the modification you are introducing creates or destroys a restriction enzyme site, then enzyme cleavage of PCR products can be used to distinguish between modified and unmodified alleles.

5. Finally, either Sanger sequencing of PCR products or Next Generation sequencing of whole genomes can be used to screen for modifications. Regardless of which screening method you choose, it is also important that you are able to determine whether only a portion or all of the alleles have been modified.

In order to reduce the amount of time and effort required to identify edited clones, GeneCopoeia recommends our donor plasmid design and construction service. We will construct a donor plasmid that contains a defined modification, flanked by a selectable marker such as puromycin resistance, and homologous arms from your target region. The donor may or may not also include a fluorescent reporter such as GFP. The markers can be flanked by loxP sites, to permit Cre-mediated removal, if desired. Use of a GeneCopoeia-designed donor plasmid allows you to select for edited clones and reduces the number of clones required for screening. You can also purchase our donor cloning vectors for do-it-yourself donor clone construction.

Answer:Yes. Even though frameshifts are not possible with miRNAs and other noncoding RNAs, an indel occurring in a critical region, such as the mature sequence of a miRNA, should be enough to abolish its function.

Answer:The vector backbones of our CRISPR sgRNAs are designed to not replicate in the host. These plasmids, which are transiently transfected, will typically be lost after several rounds of cell division and will not further affect the host cell. After transfection, cells are plated at low density to promote the formation of single colonies. These colonies should be screened to ensure that they have lost the plasmid(s). This can be done by testing clones to see if they have become sensitive to the antibiotic of the resistance gene on the plasmid, or if they no longer express the plasmid’s fluorescent marker (where applicable). However, even if the TALEN or CRISPR plasmid integrates, it can no longer cut the site after it is edited, because NHEJ destroys the TALEN or sgRNA recognition site. To be completely assured that the transfection is transient, we recommend delivering RNA instead of plasmid DNA. If you are using HDR, we recommend engineering synonymous mutations into the donor to destroy the TALEN or sgRNA recognition site.

Answer:Yes. CRISPR has been shown to be able to disrupt multiple copies at once. The efficiency varies depending on different factors, such as cell type, transfection efficiency and TALEN/CRISPR activity.

Answer:Yes. We have the reagents for the Cas9 D10A nickase, and have successfully tested our double nickase designs. However, in order to create mutagenic DSBs, the nickase requires the correct targeting of two appropriately-spaced sgRNAs on opposite strands, flanking the break site. Because proper sgRNA targeting requires the presence of the N-G-G PAM site immediately following the recognition site, it might not always be possible to use the nickase for DSB formation. There are also high-fidelity variants of Cas9 nuclease that edit genes with greater specificity than wild type Cas9, but sometimes with reduced efficacy and with increased design constraints. However, since these high fidelity variants use only one sgRNA, they are easier to work with than Cas9 niclases.

Answer:Yes. To create a DSB, the nickase requires the correct targeting of two appropriately-spaced sgRNAs on opposite strands, flanking the break site. This is sufficient to stimulate HDR between the target site and the donor. While this method has the advantage of potentially fewer off-target NHEJ-mediated mutations, since single strand nicks are repaired with higher fidelity than DSBs, it is not without limitations. Proper sgRNA targeting requires the presence of the N-G-G PAM site immediately following the recognition site. Therefore, it might not always be possible to use the nickase for HDR.

Answer:We only sell plasmids containing our custom-designed CRISPR sgRNAs. If you need a negative control, we also sell a CRISPR plasmid containing a scrambled sgRNA.

Answer:Yes.

Answer:Yes. There is a double mutant of the Cas9 nuclease that completely abolishes nuclease activity. This mutant can be fused to a transcriptional modulator such as VP64 and targeted to specific genes. You can also use the catalytically dead Cas9 with properly-designed sgRNAs to repress, or interfere with, gene expression.

Answer:Yes. We have both non-viral and lentiviral formats. We also have , in which we can provide you with lentiviral particles expressing both Cas9 and sgRNAs.

Answer:Unfortunately, no. Lentiviruses enter cells as RNA, but HDR donors must enter the cells as DNA at the same time as Cas9 and the sgRNAs.

Answer:Lentiviral particles, transfection-ready DNA, and bacterial stock.

Answer:Yes. The lentiviral plasmids are “dual-use”, so that they can either be packaged into lentiviral particles or transfected into cells by standard transfection methods.

Answer:Our sgRNA representation does not need to be validated by Next Generation Sequencing. Each library is small compared with the genome-wide libraries, and each sgRNA clone is constructed individually, cultured in E. coli individually, then pooled as E. coli in approximately equal amounts. From those pools we prepare DNA and then, if necessary, lentiviral particles.

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GeneHero CRISPR Products and Services | Genecopoeia

Recommendation and review posted by Rebecca Evans

Hormone Replacement Therapy From Wellness MGT corp.

Every aging adult struggles with problems of aging. What most of them dont realize is that aging is simply a scapegoat for all the troubles, physical and mental, that one experiences. Simply chalking up your aches and pains to old age will do you no good in improving your health when it is most critical to your well-being.

In fact, many of the struggles an aging adult goes through is caused by declining hormonal levels of the body. Theres no need to panic, for you are not alone in this struggle. The good news is that you, like thousands of others, have the potential of reversing the negative effects that comes with deteriorating hormones.

You may be asking, but how? Well the answer is right here, with hormone replacement therapy you can bring back the physical state and mental health you had when hormone levels were at a peak.

Hormone therapy has proven to do wonders for the mind and body in males and females alike. Many have already taken advantage of the opportunity to implement hormone therapy for weight loss, preventing disease, and improving mental health, among many others. First, lets talk about hormone therapy for weight loss. A direct link has been found between hormonal activity and body mass. Lets face it, as you get older, no matter how intense your diet or exercise is, your body is just more and more resistant to weight loss. Your metabolism just isnt what it used to be.

Perhaps in your youth you were one of those people who could eat anything they wanted in large quantities and still never showed a sign of a single extra pound. Well, those days are probably long gone by now. Although this is common, whos to say that we should just accept it? On the contrary, people who have decided to fight against this by using hormone therapy are experiencing amazing results. Every single adult, age 30 and older, has the opportunity to experience a healthy lifestyle, and we are the ones to present them with that opportunity.

Hormone therapy for men and women helps you get healthy, stronger, and happier overall. It is absolutely the best option for any aging adult, simply because it is a natural treatment. Your bodys hormones, such as testosterone, estrogen, and many others, are responsible for managing your bodily systems.

At a young age, they are working at full potential, which is why you look and feel great. Naturally, as they begin to plummet, so does your bodys activity and upkeep. Implementing hormone replacement therapy does your mind and body a huge favor in rejuvenating the hormones it requires to function properly.

Our products result in improved energy, stamina, quality of sleep, sex drive and performance, muscle building, as well as factors critical to your health such as regulated blood pressure levels and much more.

The options we offer to our customers are only the safest and most effective on the market. Get quality hormone therapy for men and women completely legally and hassle-free.

Best of all, the products we offer are 100% natural. Why poison your body with artificial supplements and products that will only end up doing more harm in the long run?

Make the choice to treat your body to exactly the hormones its lacking and give it the ability to run at full potential like it once used to.

Wellness MGT corp. in Google+

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Hormone Replacement Therapy From Wellness MGT corp.

Recommendation and review posted by simmons

Hypopituitarism – Diagnosis and treatment – Mayo Clinic

Diagnosis

If your doctor suspects a pituitary disorder, he or she will likely order several tests to check levels of various hormones in your body. Your doctor may also want to check for hypopituitarism if you’ve had a recent head injury or radiation treatment that might have put you at risk of damage to your pituitary gland.

Tests your doctor may order include:

Successful treatment of the underlying condition causing hypopituitarism may lead to a complete or partial recovery of your body’s normal production of pituitary hormones. Treatment with the appropriate hormones is often the first step. These drugs are considered as “replacement,” rather than treatment, because the dosages are set to match the amounts that your body would normally manufacture if it didn’t have a pituitary problem. Treatment may be lifelong.

Treatment for pituitary tumors may involve surgery to remove the growth. In some instances, doctors also recommend radiation treatment.

Hormone replacement medications may include:

If you’ve become infertile, LH and FSH (gonadotropins) can be administered by injection to stimulate ovulation in women and sperm production in men.

A doctor who specializes in endocrine disorders (endocrinologist) may monitor the levels of these hormones in your blood to ensure you’re getting adequate but not excessive amounts.

Your doctor will advise you to adjust your dosage of corticosteroids if you become seriously ill or experience major physical stress. During these times, your body would ordinarily produce extra cortisol hormone. The same kind of fine-tuning of dosage may be necessary when you have the flu, experience diarrhea or vomiting, or have surgery or dental procedures. Adjustments in dosage may also be necessary during pregnancy or with marked changes in weight. You may need periodic CT or MRI scans as well to monitor a pituitary tumor or other diseases causing the hypopituitarism.

Wear a medical alert bracelet or pendant, and carry a special card, notifying others in emergency situations, for example that you’re taking corticosteroids and other medications.

You’re likely to start by seeing your family doctor or a general practitioner. However, in some cases, when you call to set up an appointment, you may be referred to a specialist called an endocrinologist.

Here’s some information to help you prepare for your appointment.

Create a list of questions before your appointment so that you can make the most of your time with your doctor. For hypopituitarism, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:

Don’t hesitate to ask any questions you have during your appointment.

Your doctor is likely to ask you some questions, such as:

Aug. 22, 2017

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Hypopituitarism – Diagnosis and treatment – Mayo Clinic

Recommendation and review posted by simmons

Stem Cell Basics – ISSCR

The human body comprises more than 200 types of cells, and every one of these cell types arises from the zygote, the single cell that forms when an egg is fertilized by a sperm. Within a few days, that single cell divides over and over again until it forms a blastocyst, a hollow ball of 150 to 200 cells that give rise to every single cell type a human body needs to survive, including the umbilical cord and the placenta that nourishes the developing fetus.

Each cell type has its own size and structure appropriate for its job. Skin cells, for example, are small and compact, while nerve cells that enable you to wiggle your toes have long, branching nerve fibers called axons that conduct electrical impulses.

Cells with similar functionality form tissues, and tissues organize to form organs. Each cell has its own job within the tissue in which it is found, and all of the cells in a tissue and organ work together to make sure the organ functions properly.

Regardless of their size or structure, all human cells start with these things in common:

Stem cells are the foundation of development in plants, animals and humans. In humans, there are many different types of stem cells that come from different places in the body or are formed at different times in our lives. These include embryonic stem cells that exist only at the earliest stages of development and various types of tissue-specific (or adult) stem cells that appear during fetal development and remain in our bodies throughout life.

Stem cells are defined by two characteristics:

Beyond these two things, though, stem cells differ a great deal in their behaviors and capabilities.

Embryonic stem cells are pluripotent, meaning they can generate all of the bodys cell types but cannot generate support structures like the placenta and umbilical cord.

Other cells are multipotent, meaning they can generate a few different cell types, generally in a specific tissue or organ.

As the body develops and ages, the number and type of stem cells changes. Totipotent cells are no longer present after dividing into the cells that generate the placenta and umbilical cord. Pluripotent cells give rise to the specialized cells that make up the bodys organs and tissues. The stem cells that stay in your body throughout your life are tissue-specific, and there is evidence that these cells change as you age, too your skin stem cells at age 20 wont be exactly the same as your skin stem cells at age 80.

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Stem Cell Basics – ISSCR

Recommendation and review posted by Jack Burke

World Gene Therapy Research Report 2018: Technologies …

DUBLIN–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The “Gene Therapy – Technologies, Markets and Companies” report from Jain PharmaBiotech has been added to ResearchAndMarkets.com’s offering

Gene therapy technologies are described in detail including viral vectors, nonviral vectors and cell therapy with genetically modified vectors. Gene therapy is an excellent method of drug delivery and various routes of administration as well as targeted gene therapy are described. There is an introduction to technologies for gene suppression as well as molecular diagnostics to detect and monitor gene expression. Gene editing technologies such as CRISPR-Cas9 and CAR-T cell therapies are also included

Clinical applications of gene therapy are extensive and cover most systems and their disorders. Full chapters are devoted to genetic syndromes, cancer, cardiovascular diseases, neurological disorders and viral infections with emphasis on AIDS. Applications of gene therapy in veterinary medicine, particularly for treating cats and dogs, are included.

Research and development is in progress in both the academic and the industrial sectors. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) of the US is playing an important part. As of 2016, over 2050 clinical trials were completed, were ongoing or had been approved worldwide. A breakdown of these trials is shown according to the geographical areas and applications.

The markets for gene therapy have been difficult to estimate as there only a few approved gene therapy products. Gene therapy markets are estimated for the years 2017-2027. The estimates are based on epidemiology of diseases to be treated with gene therapy, the portion of those who will be eligible for these treatments, competing technologies and the technical developments anticipated in the next decades. In spite of some setbacks, the future for gene therapy is bright. The markets for DNA vaccines are calculated separately as only genetically modified vaccines and those using viral vectors are included in the gene therapy markets.

The voluminous literature on gene therapy was reviewed and selected 750 references are appended in the bibliography. The references are constantly updated. The text is supplemented with 78 tables and 25 figures.

Profiles of 183 companies involved in developing gene therapy are presented along with 250 collaborations. There were only 44 companies involved in this area in 1995. In spite of some failures and mergers, the number of companies has increased more than 4-fold in 2 decades. These companies have been followed up since they were the topic of a book on gene therapy companies by the author of this report.

Key Topics Covered:

Part I: Technologies & Markets

Executive Summary

1. Introduction

2. Gene Therapy Technologies

3. Clinical Applications of Gene Therapy

4. Gene Therapy of Genetic Disorders

5. Gene Therapy of Cancer

6. Gene Therapy of Neurological Disorders

7. Gene Therapy of Cardiovascular Disorders

8. Gene therapy of viral infections

9. Research, Development and Future of Gene Therapy

10. Regulatory, Safety, Ethical Patent Issues of Gene Therapy

11. Markets for Gene Therapy

12. References

Part II: Companies

13. Companies involved in Gene Therapy

For more information about this report visit https://www.researchandmarkets.com/research/ck3cjd/world_gene?w=4

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World Gene Therapy Research Report 2018: Technologies …

Recommendation and review posted by Bethany Smith

Genetic Reasons: Female Hair Loss | Women’s ROGAINE

WHAT IS THE LIFE CYCLE OF HAIR

The average person is born with 100,000 hair follicles on their head, which are in a constant state of change. When a follicle is first activated, it grows thick hairs for several years. When the growth cycle is complete, the follicle undergoes a transitional phase before entering into a resting period where the hair is eventually shed, and the cycle begins again.

Hereditary hair loss starts with a progressive shortening of the hairs growth cycle and involves gradually shrinking hair follicles that eventually are no longer able to produce normal hair.

DIFFERENT TYPES OF HAIR LOSS

Hair thinning is surprisingly common. More than 1 out of every 4 women will experience it at one time or another. While certain lifestyle factors can absolutely have an impact on your hairs thickness, over 90% of all hair loss is due to genetic factors. So before you start blaming your diet or blow dryer, get to know the facts behind the science of genetic hair thinning.

NOT ALL HAIR LOSS IS CREATED EQUAL

In general, hair loss falls into one of 2 categories: hereditary and non-hereditary. Hereditary hair loss is known as androgenetic alopecia (AGA) and is a genetic condition that shortens the time that the hair spends actively growing. AGA eventually causes the hair follicles to slowly shrink. Women with hereditary hair loss experience a general thinning of the hair, with the most extensive hair loss occurring on the top of the head and along the part. The number of women with this type of hair loss increases with age, but it can start as early as your 20s. Womens ROGAINE Foam is only indicated to treat hereditary hair loss.

On the flipside, temporary hair loss, known as telogen effluvium, happens when stress, diet, a hormonal imbalance, or a traumatic event causes the hair follicles to remain in the resting state, causing increased hair shedding and a temporary thinning of hair across the whole scalp. While the amount of time someone stays in telogen effluvium varies, once the imbalance has been corrected, the hair will return to its previous thickness.

A third kind of hair loss is called alopecia areata, an autoimmune disorder that is recognized by well-defined patches of hair loss, which may happen rapidly and can lead to complete hair loss. If you have no history of hair loss in your family and are experiencing this kind of hair loss, consult your doctor.

If youre not certain about what kind of hair thinning youre experiencing, our quizcan help you start to sort things out.

WHOS TO BLAME? MOM OR DAD?

Its a commonly held myth that genetic hair loss is only inherited from one side of the family or the other. In reality, you can inherit the thinning hair gene from either your mother or father (or both). That being said, if a number of close relatives have thinning hair, your chances of experiencing it increase, but are by no means inevitable.

NOT JUST FOR MEN

Incorrectly thought of as only a male ailment, both men and women experience hair loss, but in varying patterns and severity. Men will tend to recede at the hair line and/or experience hair loss around the crown of the head, whereas a womans hair loss usually involves a more dispersed thinning on the top of the head, which may be especially noticeable as a widening part.

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Genetic Reasons: Female Hair Loss | Women’s ROGAINE

Recommendation and review posted by Bethany Smith

CRISPR Background CRISPR Update

Targeted gene editing began with the discovery of zinc finger proteins in the 1980s and continued to improve through the 1990s and early 2000s with the discovery of Transcription activator-like effector nucleases, or TALENS (1, 2). Both of these techniques rely on complex protein structures being engineered to target specific DNA sequences and containing a fused nuclease that nicks a single strand of the DNA duplex. In order to induce the double stranded break (DSB) needed for non-homologous end joining (NHEJ) or homology directed repair (HDR) two zinc finger or TALEN proteins are needed, each targeting one strand of the DNA duplex. While these techniques are reliable, the challenges in designing the protein structures needed to target specific DNA sequences limited their widespread adoption. In 2012 the CRISPR/Cas system was found to target and cut specific DNA sequences using only a nuclease and RNAs to target specific DNA sequences (3). The ease with which this system allows for targeting any gene has set off a new era in targeted gene editing.

Clustered Regular Interspaced Palindromic Repeats, or CRISPRs, were originally identified in the late 1980s in bacteria as short segments of repeating DNA separated by unique spacer sequences however their significance was originally, not known (4). It was not until the early 2000s that the term CRISPR was coined and specific genes, named CRISPR-Associated genes, or Cas genes, were identified (5). Throughout the next decade it was found that the unique spacer sequences were homologous to phage DNA and that certain Cas proteins (i.e. Cas9) used transcribed CRISPR RNA to target and cleave phage DNA, thus acting as an adaptive immune system for bacteria (3, 610). The CRISPR system is composed of two RNA components, crRNA and tracrRNA. Both are transcribed and are required for Cas9 cleavage activity (7). The crRNA is the RNA moiety that targets a specific gene sequence; it contains the transcribed unique spacer RNA as well as a palindromic repeat. The tracrRNA contains a palindromic repeat (the complementary sequence to the crRNA) and a region that can bind to Cas9. Upon duplexing of the crRNA and tracrRNA, this RNA complex can join with Cas9 to target DNA complementary to the unique spacer region of the crRNA (3). Once the crRNA forms a duplex with DNA and the PAM sequence is engaged, Cas9 will cut both strands of the DNA resulting in a double stranded break (DSB), thereby inducing the host DNA repair mechanisms.

After cleavage, DNA can by repaired one of two ways. The simplest, most efficient repair mechanism is referred to as Non-Homologous End-Joining (NHEJ) repair and is the result of enzymes adding and/or removing DNA bases at random to repair the break. This process can result in mutations, by either introducing a premature stop codon or by causing a frameshift mutation. Either one of these mutations ultimately results in a non-functional gene product. NHEJ is routinely used when researchers want to knockout a specific gene. Less efficient than NHEJ is Homology Directed Repair (HDR). HDR is used to insert/knockout genes or to make a specific change at a DSB. In addition to needing the CRISPR/Cas9 machinery, HDR requires a sequence of DNA whose ends are homologous to the ends of the DSB. After inducing a DSB, the cell inserts the new sequence through homologous recombination. To induce specific mutations in cells lines, addition of a donor DNA is needed.

In 2012 Jennifer Doundas group at University of California-Berkley characterized the activity of Cas9 and found that the two RNA component of Cas9 could be modified into a single strand of RNA. This new RNA fragment was coined the guide RNA (gRNA), also known as a single guide RNA. The gRNA is composed of a truncated tracrRNA sequence coined the scaffold sequence fused to a ~20 nucleotide user defined spacer or targeting sequence (3). This system can theoretically be used to target any sequence in a genome provided it meets two conditions. First, the sequence must be unique when compared to the rest of the genome and second, the target sequence has to be immediately followed by the Protospacer Adjacent Motif (PAM). The PAM is a 3-5 nucleotide sequence that is required for Cas cleavage activity. Cas9 has a three nucleotide PAM NGG while other Cas proteins have been identified with different PAM sequences (11). Additionally, protein engineering has been used to create Cas9 variants with different PAM sequences thus expanding the number of genomic targets possible.

Identification of CRISPR mutations depends on which repair mechanism is employed. When large genes are inserted by HDR, PCR amplification of the transgene can easily identify which lines are positive for the desired event. When HDR is used to repair small sections of DNA that do not result in large insertions, sequencing or heteroduplex cleavage are used to identify the changes. A DSB repaired via NHEJ can be detected using a heteroduplexing and endonuclease assay such as T7EI or Surveyor. Upon heteroduplexing of the mutated sequence with a wild-typesequence, T7EI or Surveyor can cleave at the mismatched DNA bases. Successfully modified sequences are then identified by comparing the fragment sizes produced by the assay with the theoretical fragment size of the CRISPR targeted sequence. The ease at which CRISPR/Cas systems can be programed to target virtually any gene in any genome potentially allows for widespread adoption in a number of industries and applications. . Right now, CRISPR is being used to understand how different genes impact human disease through the use of several model animal systems. It is also being used to engineer the next generation of production crops and animals. In the more immediate future CRISPR gene editing may be used to potentially fight widespread zoonotic diseases such as malaria. The applications are endless. While no one can be certain how far reaching the impact CRISPR technology will be, it has undoubtedly revolutionized molecular biology.

Continued here:
CRISPR Background CRISPR Update

Recommendation and review posted by Jack Burke

what is gene therapy? – Bluebird Bio

The goal of gene therapy is to address a disease at the genetic level. Many different approaches are being studied, such as:

bluebird bio is studying an approach to gene therapy that adds functional copies of a faulty gene to a patients own blood stem cells. The functional copies of the gene are delivered into the patients blood stem cells outside of the patients body. This makes the gene therapy.

The gene therapy is then given to the patient via a bone marrow transplant (BMT), also called stem cell transplant or hematopoietic stem cell transplant. This takes place in an in-patient hospital setting. As part of the transplant process, the patient receives myeloablative chemotherapy to make room in their bone marrow for the gene therapy. After the gene therapy has been infused, the patients cells will need time to multiply and produce enough new cells with the functional gene. This process is called engraftment. The patient remains in the hospital until their immune system cells have recovered and their doctor determines that it is safe for the patient to be discharged.

bluebird bio is currently investigating gene therapy in ongoing clinical trials in patients living with severe sickle cell disease, transfusion-dependent -thalassemia (also known as -thalassemia major) and cerebral adrenoleukodystrophy.

The following is a representation of organizations that offer resources and information on gene therapy, severe genetic diseases, cancer, and clinical studies:

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what is gene therapy? – Bluebird Bio

Recommendation and review posted by Bethany Smith

Stem Cells Can Create Skin For Burn Victims | IFLScience

When burn victims need a skin graft they typically have to grow skin on other parts of their bodies – a process that can take weeks. A new technique uses stem cells derived from the umbilical cord to generate new skin much more quickly. The results were published in Stem Cells Translational Medicine by lead author Ingrid Garzn from the University of Granadas Department of Histology.

Not only can the stem cells develop artificial skin more quickly than regular normal skin growth, but the skin can also be stored so it is ready right when it is needed. Tens of thousands of grafts are performed each year for burn victims, cosmetic surgery patients, and for people with large wounds having difficulty healing. Traditionally, this involves taking a large patch of skin (typically from the thigh) and removing the dermis and epidermis to transplant elsewhere on the body.

The artificial skin requires the use of Wharton’s jelly mesenchymal stem cells. As the name implies, Whartons jelly is a gelatinous tissue in the umbilical cord that contains uncommitted mesenchymal stemcells (MSC). The MSC is then combined with agarose(a polysaccharide polymer) and fibrin (the fibrous protein that aids in blood clotting). This yielded two results: skin and the mucosal lining of the mouth. The researchers are very pleased to have found two new uses for the stem cells of Whartons jelly, which have not previously been researched for epithelial applications.

Once the epithelial tissues have been created, researchers can store it in tissue banks. If someone is brought into the hospital following a devastating burn or accident, the tissue is ready to graft immediately; not in a few weeks. However, the stem-cell skin is not able to fully differentiate in vitro. After the graft, it has complete cell-cell junctions and will develop all of the necessary layers of normal epithelial tissue.

The MSCs are taken from the umbilical cord after the baby has been born, which poses no risk to either the mother or the child. This method is relatively inexpensive and has been shown to be more efficient than stem cells derived from bone marrow.

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Stem Cells Can Create Skin For Burn Victims | IFLScience

Recommendation and review posted by Jack Burke

Direct-to-Consumer Genetic Tests | Consumer Information

Could a simple medical test tell you if you are likely to get a particular disease? Could it evaluate your health risks and even suggest a specific treatment? Could you take this test in the privacy of your home, without a doctors prescription or guidance?

Some companies say genetic testing can do all this and more. They claim that direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic testing can screen for diseases and provide a basis for choosing a particular diet, dietary supplement, lifestyle change, or medication. These companies primarily sell their tests online and through multi-level marketing networks.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) wants you to know the facts about the DTC marketing of genetic tests.

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which regulates the manufacturers of genetic tests, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which promotes health and quality of life, some of these tests lack scientific validity, and others provide results that are meaningful only in the context of a full medical evaluation. The FDA and CDC say that due to the complexities of both the testing and the interpretation of the results, genetic tests should be conducted in registered laboratories that are certified to handle specimens, and the results may need to be interpreted by a doctor or trained counselor who understands the value of genetic testing for a particular situation.

Inside the cells of your body, chromosomes carry your genetic blueprint. Your chromosomes are passed to you by your parents; they contain genes made of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid). Your genes determine characteristics like eye color or height, and contribute to your chances of getting certain diseases.

Genetic tests examine genes and DNA to see if they indicate the presence of, or risk for developing, particular diseases or disorders. Several different types of tests are available. Some look at the number and shape of chromosomes to find obvious abnormalities. Others look for small unusual portions of individual proteins or variations in DNA. Genetic tests might look at one or a few variations in DNA or a million or more variations at one time. Typically, these tests require a blood sample, a swab from inside your cheek, or saliva. In DTC genetic tests, you collect the sample at home and then send to a laboratory for analysis. No physicians prescription is required. Prices of DTC genetic tests can range from less than $100 to a few thousand dollars. Sometimes, they are offered for free as long as the consumer agrees to buy other products from the seller, like nutritional supplements.

The results of genetic tests are not always yes or no for the presence or the risk for developing disease, which make interpretations and explanations difficult. In most cases, diseases occur as a result of interaction among multiple genes and the environment for example, a persons lifestyle, the foods they eat, and the substances to which theyre exposed, like sunlight, chemicals, and tobacco. The interactions of these factors in contributing to health and disease can be very complex. Even health care experts are just beginning to understand the relationships among these factors. Thats why it is important to gather and analyze this information with a qualified health care provider so you can be sure genetic data is accurate and correctly used.

Many genetic tests look at only a small number of the more than 20,000 genes in the human body. A positive result means that the testing laboratory found unusual characteristics or changes in the genes it tested. Depending on the purpose of the test, a positive result may confirm a diagnosis, identify an increased risk of developing a disease, or indicate that a person is a carrier for a particular disease. It does not necessarily mean that a disease will develop, or if it does, that the disease will be progressive or severe.

A negative result means that the laboratory found no unusual characteristics or changes in the genes it tested. This could mean that a person doesnt have a particular disease, doesnt have an increased risk of developing the disease, or isnt a carrier of the disease. Or it could mean that the test didnt examine or has missed the specific genetic changes associated with a particular disease.

In short, the FDA and CDC say that genetic testing provides only one piece of information about a persons susceptibility to disease. Other factors, including family background, medical history, and environment, also contribute to the likelihood of getting a particular disease. In most cases, genetic testing makes the most sense when it is part of a medical exam that includes a persons family background and medical history.

Some companies claim that DTC genetic tests can measure the risk of developing a particular disease, like heart disease, diabetes, cancer, or Alzheimers. But the FDA and CDC say that risks of such diseases come from many sources, not just genetic changes, and that valid studies are necessary to prove these tests give accurate results. Having a particular gene variation doesnt necessarily mean that a disease will develop; likewise, not having a particular gene variation doesnt necessarily mean that the disease will not occur.

Some companies also may claim that a person can protect against serious disease by choosing special foods and nutritional supplements. Consequently, the results of their DTC genetic tests often include dietary advice and sales offers for customized dietary supplements and cosmetics. The FDA and CDC say they dont know of any valid scientific studies showing that genetic tests can be used safely or effectively to recommend nutritional choices or to genetically customize dietary supplements or cosmetics.

As for claims that the tests can assess a persons ability to withstand certain environmental exposures, like particular toxins or cigarette smoke: Be skeptical. The FDA and CDC arent aware of any valid scientific studies that show that genetic tests can be used to predict whether a person can withstand environmental exposures.

Some companies have claimed that DTC genetic tests can give information about how a persons body will respond to a certain treatment, and how well people will respond to a particular drug. This claim is based on current medical research that shows differences in drug effectiveness based on genetic make-up. But, say federal experts, while these tests may provide some information your doctor needs or uses to make treatment decisions for a specific condition, they are not a substitute for a physicians judgment and clinical experience.

According to the FDA and CDC, DTC genetic tests arent a suitable substitute for a traditional health care evaluation. Medical exams that include conventional laboratory tests like blood chemistry and lipid profiles are a more appropriate starting point for diagnosing diseases and assessing preventive measures. Nevertheless, if you are considering using a DTC genetic test:

The Federal Trade Commission works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint or to get free information on consumer issues, visit ftc.gov or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261.

The Food and Drug Administration is responsible for protecting the public health by assuring the safety, efficacy, and security of human and veterinary drugs, biological products, medical devices, our nations food supply, cosmetics, and products that emit radiation. The FDA also is responsible for advancing the public health by helping to speed innovations that make medicines and foods more effective, safer, and more affordable; and helping the public get the accurate, science-based information they need to use medicines and foods to improve their health. For more information from the FDA, call toll-free 1-800-INFO-FDA. Copies of press releases and consumer alerts are available from the FDAs website atwww.fda.gov.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is one of the 13 major operating components of the Department of Health and Human Services, which is the principal agency in the United States government for protecting the health and safety of all Americans and for providing essential human services, especially for those people who are least able to help themselves. For further information about CDC,visit http://www.cdc.gov, call toll-free 1-800-CDC-INFO, or e-mailcdcinfo@cdc.gov.

Produced in cooperation with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

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Direct-to-Consumer Genetic Tests | Consumer Information

Recommendation and review posted by Bethany Smith

Direct-to-consumer genetic testing kits – Harvard Health

Published: September, 2010

You send in a sample and get your results online. But is it worth the price?

All disease is, to some degree, genetic. From cancer to the common cold, almost every human malady known to humankind has something to do with genes the stretches of DNA containing instructions for making the proteins that govern how our bodies are built and how they function. Your genes influence your risk for degenerative disorders the innumerable conditions from osteoporosis to Alzheimer’s disease in which structure, function, or both deteriorate. They also influence allergic reactions, your ability to fend off infection, how you process nutrients and drugs, and even your susceptibility to accidents.

Trading on that knowledge and aided by technological advances that have improved the rate and accuracy of gene identification, a growing number of companies are marketing genetic testing kits directly to consumers. Their promotional materials promise to guide you to a healthier life by predicting your unique risk for developing scores of diseases and telling you how to prevent them.

The promise is enticing. Most of what we know about prevention and treatment is based on studies involving large numbers of people. Yet even the most successful regimens or therapies don’t work for everyone. Genetic testing suggests the possibility of an approach to health care in which risk reduction and treatment are individually tailored. But buyer beware: while most scientists agree that the age of personalized medicine is on the horizon, many doubt that it’s as close as the test-kit promotions would have you believe.

The Human Genome Project, completed in 2003, revealed just how much individual variation there is. Researchers worked out the order (or sequence) of the three billion DNA bases (chemical building blocks) that constitute the human genome (the complete set of human DNA). Although it’s about 99% the same in all people, it still varies at more than 10 million DNA bases. That variation explains, in part, our varying degrees of risk for certain diseases.

In medical settings, genetic tests have been used to identify variations that cause serious health conditions. These tests are usually reserved for people known to be at risk for a specific disease because it runs in families. For example, couples planning a pregnancy may be tested to determine whether they carry the gene for Tay-Sachs disease. Women with close relatives who developed breast cancer early in life may want to know if they carry one of the high-risk BRCA genes. Because the results of such tests can alter lives, they are best administered only after individuals have been counseled on the risks, benefits, and limits of testing and have given informed consent. The results are confidential, and their implications should be explained to patients by genetic counselors.

Clinicians can also use genetic testing to help them select more effective drug treatments. For example, postmenopausal women with breast cancer for whom tamoxifen may be an option are sometimes tested to see if they have a gene variant that renders tamoxifen less effective; if they do, they can be prescribed a drug that works differently. Another genetic test may help determine whether patients at risk for blood clotting will benefit more from clopidogrel (Plavix) or from another drug such as prasugrel (Effient).

Direct-to-consumer genetic testing kits are marketed to people who aren’t necessarily ill or at high risk for a disease, but who may be just curious or concerned about their risk for different disorders. Some of these tests require a physician’s prescription, but many are sold directly to consumers on the Internet. The commercial tests examine a small number of the more than 20,000 genes in the human body and, in theory, predict your risk for conditions such as heart disease, colon cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease; determine disease carrier status for pregnancy planning; and identify genetic variants that increase or decrease your ability to metabolize alcohol and certain drugs. Many also offer ancestry tracking identifying clusters of gene variations that are often inherited by a group of people with a common origin.

If you want to take a test, you will need an e-mail account and Internet access. After registering (and paying with a credit card) through the company’s Web site, you’ll be mailed a kit with instructions for collecting cells through saliva or a cheek swab. You mail the sample to a lab where it is analyzed and you receive a report within a specified time. Material accompanying your report may recommend strategies for reducing your risk of developing the condition your genes predict. You may also get telephone or e-mail access to a genetic counselor.

Commercial genetic tests are under scrutiny by the federal government. When Pathway Genomics announced in May 2010 that it would market its test kits through Walgreens drugstores, a Congressional committee launched an investigation. Meanwhile, the FDA has notified several consumer genetic-testing companies that they must apply for approval of the tests as medical devices (or explain why they think approval is unnecessary). The concern is that the companies are making scientifically unsupportable claims for the value of the tests in making health decisions. Walgreens has postponed plans to sell Pathway’s kits in stores, and the investigations may force some changes in the way these tests are marketed.

If you’re considering ordering a test kit, keep the following in mind:

They’re expensive. The cost can run to several hundred dollars or more (see the chart, below), and it’s not covered by insurance.

Your report will be based on incomplete knowledge. Your risk for conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer depends on complex interactions between genes and lifestyle factors. Even diseases caused by a single gene, such as cystic fibrosis, are influenced by other genes that can affect, for example, the condition’s severity. Researchers haven’t identified all the genes responsible for these conditions or determined how factors such as diet or exercise influence the expression of those genes. Moreover, in many cases, the gene variations identified by the tests are only slightly associated with risk, or there is little good evidence to support any association.

The effects of a gene variation usually depend on other hereditary factors. It’s important to get as much information as you can about members of your family and interpret the test results in that context. For example, if your father had a heart attack, did it occur at age 40 or age 80? The online test kits can’t take that information into account.

Most of the tests have not been clinically validated. It will take large studies to determine whether the gene variations used in these tests accurately predict disease.

The test may not tell you anything you don’t already know. By middle age, medical exams and screenings have probably given you a good idea of your risk for heart disease, diabetes, or osteoporosis. If you’re uncertain, you can consult one of the well-established cost-free risk calculators, which include the Framingham Risk Assessment Tool for heart disease (www.health.harvard.edu/heartrisk), the Diabetes Risk Test (www.diabetes.org), and the FRAX tool, which estimates the 10-year likelihood of a hip or other major fracture (www.shef.ac.uk/FRAX).

Knowing the results won’t always be useful. Identifying a genetic risk may inspire you to adopt a more healthful lifestyle, but it could also prompt you to seek diagnostic tests you don’t need. It could even make you fatalistic and discouraged. Correspondingly, the absence of a genetic risk could create a false sense of security.

The follow-up report offers mostly generic advice. You may find that the payoff your personal guide to better health is a letdown. The recommendations are likely to be very similar to guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the National Institutes of Health, which are based on large-group or population-wide studies.

Company (Web site)

Sample

Conditions

Price

deCODE genetics(www.decodeme.com)

Cheek swab

Carrier status for disorders, disease risk, drug metabolism, ancestry

$2000 for complete panel; $500 each, cancer or heart panel. Genetic counseling included in price.

23andMe, Inc.(www.23andme.com)

Saliva

Carrier status for disorders, disease risk, drug metabolism, ancestry

$429 for health panel (carrier status, disease risk, drug metabolism); $399 for ancestry; $499 for both. Genetic counseling available for additional fee.

Pathway Genomics*(www.pathway.com)

Saliva

Carrier status for pregnancy planning, disease risk, drug metabolism, ancestry

$399 for disease risk panel; $249 each for ancestry, pregnancy planning, drug metabolism. Genetic counseling included in price.

Interleukin Genetics(www.ilgenetics.com)

Cheek swab

Obesity, heart attack, B vitamin metabolism, bone loss

$149 each; discounted prices for two or more. Genetic counseling and consultation included in price.

*Disclosure: Harvard Health Publishing, publishers of Harvard Women’s Health Watch, has a licensing agreement with Pathway Genomics unrelated to this article.

If you’re still interested in ordering a genetic test kit, start by exploring the company Web site for answers to these questions:

How accurate are the results? This depends on the quality of the sample and the reliability of the laboratory performing the analysis. You’ll want to know what the company will do if your sample is unusable. Some will refund your payment; others will let you submit another sample. You will also want to make sure that the lab is accredited. In the United States, most clinical labs are certified by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

How will I know what my results mean? Most Web sites provide sample reports that allow you to judge the quality of the explanation and advice you’ll get. The Web site should also tell you whether you can get help interpreting the results from a medical geneticist or a genetics counselor.

Will my results and any risk-reduction strategies be useful? Most reports will indicate which genetic variations you have and offer a general idea of what they mean. The risks of developing specific disorders will usually be given as a percentage above or below average or characterized as “high,” “low” or “average.” You should ask yourself whether you really want to know if you’re even at slightly elevated risk for a serious disease you can do nothing to prevent, such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Is my information confidential? Under the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, you cannot be denied a job or health insurance on the basis of your genetic information except in companies with fewer than 15 employees. The law does not apply to life, disability, or long-term care insurance. Be sure to find out about how your sample will be stored. If you’re using an online test, your results should be presented on a secure server, anonymously stored, and password protected.

Someday everyone’s genome may be sequenced as a matter of course, and the information used to guide our health decisions and medical care through life. But at present there is no direct evidence that these tests offer any practical benefits; that’s why they aren’t covered by health insurance. Genetically individualized medicine will have its day only when the predictive power of the tests improves and the cost of sequencing an individual’s complete genome falls from its current level of $10,000 to $15,000 to a level where it’s practical for large-scale use.

Right now, almost everything these tests offer is also available through medical professionals. If you think your genes put you at higher-than-average risk for certain diseases, talk to your clinician or a genetic counselor. A face-to-face counseling session will be far more informative and personal than an online testing kit, and it may even be covered by your health insurance.

If you’re interested in acquiring your personal genome, consider applying to the Personal Genome Project at http://www.personalgenomes.org. It’s an open-ended study aimed at matching gene variations with diseases in 100,000 people. And don’t overlook the low-tech approach to genetics. Compile a medical history of your family in as much detail and for as many generations as possible. Then, if your genome becomes available, you’ll have a context to place it in.

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Direct-to-consumer genetic testing kits – Harvard Health

Recommendation and review posted by Rebecca Evans

Gene therapy – Doctor.ndtv.com

Gene therapy is a new approach to treat, cure, and ultimately prevent disease by changing the expression of a person’s genes. Gene therapy is in its infancy, and primarily experimental, with most human clinical trials only in the research stages. It is being studied for many different types of cancer and some other diseases.

Gene therapy is also being studied as a way to change how a cell functions; for example, by stimulating immune system cells to attack cancer cells or by introducing resistance to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the virus that causes AIDS.

In general, a gene cannot be directly inserted into a person’s cell. It must be delivered to the cell using a carrier known as a “vector. The most common types of vectors used in gene therapy are viruses. Scientists use viruses because they have a unique ability to enter a cell’s DNA. Viruses used as vectors in gene therapy are genetically disabled; they are unable to reproduce themselves.

In other studies, vectors or liposomes (fat particles) are used to deliver the desired gene to cells in the patient’s body. This form of gene therapy is called in vivo, because the gene is transferred to cells inside the patient’s body.

In addition, when DNA is injected directly into a tumour, or when a liposome delivery system is used, there is a slight chance that this DNA could unintentionally be introduced into reproductive cells, producing inheritable changes. Other concerns include the possibility that transferred genes could be “overexpressed,” producing so much of the missing protein as to be harmful; that the viral vector could cause inflammation or an immune reaction; and that the virus could be transmitted from the patient to other individuals or into the environment.

However, scientists use animal testing and other precautions to identify and avoid these risks before any clinical trials are conducted in humans.

Other advances that are needed include the ability to deliver genes consistently to a precise location in the patient’s DNA (thus diminishing the risk of causing cancer), and ensure that transplanted genes are precisely controlled by the body’s normal physiologic signals.

One such question is related to the possibility of genetically altering human eggs or sperm, the reproductive cells that pass genes on to future generations. Since reproductive cells are also called germ cells, this type of gene therapy is referred to as germ-line therapy. Another question is related to the potential for enhancing human capabilitiesfor example, improving memory and intelligenceby genetic intervention. Although both germ-line gene therapy and genetic enhancement have the potential to produce benefits, possible problems with these procedures worry many scientists.

Germ-line gene therapy would forever change the genetic make-up of an individual’s descendants. Thus, the human gene pool would be permanently affected. Although these changes would presumably be for the better, an error in technology or judgment could have far-reaching consequences. In the case of genetic enhancement, there is anxiety that such manipulation could become a luxury available only to the rich and powerful. Some also fear that widespread use of this technology could lead to new definitions of “normal” that would exclude individuals who are, for example, of merely average intelligence. And, justly or not, some people associate all genetic manipulation with past abuses of the concept of “eugenics,” or the study of methods of improving genetic qualities through selective breeding.

Scientists working on the Human Genome Project, which is mapping and sequencing all of the human DNA, have recognized that the information gained from this work will have profound implications for individuals, families, and society. The Ethical, Legal, and Social Implications (ELSI) Programe was established in 1990 to address these issues. The ELSI Programme is designed to identify, analyze, and address the ethical, legal, and social implications of human genetics research at the same time that the basic scientific issues are being studied. In this way, problem areas can be identified and solutions developed before the scientific information becomes part of standard health care practice.

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Gene therapy – Doctor.ndtv.com

Recommendation and review posted by simmons

How Telehealth and Generic Drugs Are Allowing Companies To Treat Men’s Most Embarrassing Health Issues

When it comes to men and their health, the idea that men don’t care about their health comes from the alarming rate at which they don’t go to the doctor. Men care about their health, but many common sexual health issues lead to embarrassment and, usually, a lack of proactivity. Today, companies are forming to challenge and inspire self-care in men when it comes to their most common – and most embarrassing – health issues.

 

Hair loss, erectile dysfunction, and premature ejaculation are all very common health issues that plague men, a lot of men. According to the American Hair Loss Association, 25 percent of men with male pattern baldness begin losing their hair before they turn 21 years old. The Cleveland Clinic reports that 52 percent of men experience erectile dysfunction. The Mayo Clinic shares that as many as 1 in 3 men experience premature ejaculation at some point.

 

But why aren’t men going to their doctor’s office to talk about these issues more?

Hair, Sexual Wellness, and Self-Esteem

The answer is pretty simple: these issues are deeply rooted in the idea of masculinity and self-esteem, especially for younger men.

 

Andrew Dudum, founder of the new online men’s wellness brand Hims, is using this idea to fuel his new startup. Dudum recently spoke to Business Insider and stated, “between hair, sexual wellness, and skin, that makes up, from our testing, upwards of 85% what contributes to your self-esteem.”

 

Hims mission is to normalize the information and conversation about these issues, while also offering a convenient solution to the issue – allowing men to order generic prescription products that treat these common health issues online without having to see a doctor in person.

H2: Telehealth and Expiring Patents

Hims isn’t the only company seizing this opportunity to change men’s health and, essentially, change the way men take control of their health and self-esteem. Other companies like Roman aim at men and erectile dysfunction directly, while a similar brand called Lemonaid offers treatment for men’s health, birth control pills for women, and more general health issues like UTIs and sinus infections.

 

These new companies are able to positively impact people’s health due to changes in telehealth laws. In the past, health insurance companies resisted paying for or offering reimbursements for telehealth services received because an in-person visit is not required. Today, roughly 80 percent of the U.S. is able to receive coverage and reimbursements for telehealth services. It’s possible for people to receive a prescription by filling out an online survey that provides similar information that an in-person doctor’s visit would offer.

 

Another opportunity is presenting itself this December when Teva Pharmaceuticals begins selling a generic version of Viagra. Pfizer, maker of Viagra, has a generic drug competition patent expiring in 2020 and sold a license to Teva to begin production of a generic form of the leading erectile dysfunction drug and selling it in 2017. A generic version means a cheaper price tag for men and allows companies like Hims to begin offering the generic version in their product kit for about the cost of visiting your doctor, with the added benefit of not having to speak about your common health issues in person.

 

Currently, Hims only offers hair loss products, with their complete hair kit offering prescription finasteride, the generic version of Merck’s once-exclusive name-brand hair loss drug Propecia. Other products in the kit include a DHT shampoo, minoxidil drops — two over-the-counter treatments that are found in Rogaine — and Biotin vitamin supplements. For $44, men can get the power of prescription drugs and common over-the-counter treatments from their phone, all without ever facing a doctor, a pharmacist, or even someone at a checkout counter.

Online Wellness Hubs

Hims is an example of what is sure to be a growing market for online health and wellness hubs. For Hims customers, Dudum wants to serve and help men through all stages of their life and their health challenges. In an interview with TechCrunch, Dudum states, “Maybe you come for hair loss products initially, but you come back for sexual wellness products, then cholesterol wellness products. We want to grow with you as different challenges arise.”

 

Hims’ mission of creating an empowered health culture and inspire proactive and preventative self-care can hopefully start to inspire self-care in men. The idea of telehealth and self-care is an idea that will persist in these new online wellness hubs and is one that men, and certainly their partners, can get behind.

Recommendation and review posted by Jack Burke

Operationalizing Gene Therapy Trials – Premier Research

Even measured against the vast scientific mystery that defines the biotech industry, gene therapy poses extraordinary challenges. Its still a young field, the science is stunningly complex, and the regulatory terrain is still evolving.

Sponsors and CROs have an understandably challenging time operationalizing clinical trials for new gene therapy treatments. In this webcast, well examine the history and current state of gene therapy research and investigate the obstacles in both patient recruitment and retention, study start-up regulations, and types of gene therapy vectors and vector delivery strategies.

Lisa Dilworth, Executive Director Program Strategy Rare Disease and Pediatrics, regularly consults with clients on key factors such as study design, eligibility criteria, appropriate patient populations, end point selection and program strategy in order to develop global therapeutic product strategies for rare and pediatric trials. Ms. Dilworths expertise and experience includes multiple gene therapy trials in subjects ranging from neonates to adults around the globe.

Ms. Dilworth holds a masters degree in Clinical Research from the University of California, San Diego and a Bachelors in Biology from the University of California, Berkeley. Her prior work as a study coordinator and various clinical operations roles enable her to work closely with clients, physicians and patients with a variety of disorders.

Nadia Zeini is currently working as Sr. Regulatory Study Start Up Manager at Premier Research since December 2016. She is responsible for all regulatory and start up activities in EU and non-EU countries, as applicable. Nadia Zeini has a solid regulatory background where she grew from local start up associate to Global Regulatory lead for ten years

Ms. Zeini holds a Chemistry-Major in Biochemistry from Complutense University in Spain as well as a Masters degree in Clinical Trials from Universidad of Seville in Spain.

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Operationalizing Gene Therapy Trials – Premier Research

Recommendation and review posted by Rebecca Evans

The Hormone Center – Alternative Medicine | Holistic …

A Doctor’s Journey

I started to realize something was wrong when I saw a patient who was on 10 medications. The first five dealt with ailments while the second five were for the side effects of the first five. Despite the medications, the patient didn’t feel any better. This was the beginning of my inquiry into another way to practice medicine.

Sometimes our practice gets lumped into the alternative medicine category. And while we are open to additional ways to treat illness, our protocols are based on science and deduction.

The Hormone Center is much more than a hormone treatment center or just a hormone physician. We practice integrativemedicine, which is sometimes confused with functionalmedicine.

We believe that medications are not always the answer and can often mask the true underlying conditions and imbalances. Even my kids chuckle when they see drug commercials that spend 15 seconds on the benefits and 45 seconds on the side effects.

And unfortunately ‘healthcare in the U.S. is mistitled. It should be called sick-care because most people only engage the medical system when theyre sick, not when theyre healthy.

Our “hormone specialists” believe the following:

We believe that most people dont want to be on medications or live a sub-standard life but they often don’t know what else to do.

At our core, we believe that from an evolutionary standpoint, the body is built to heal itself. Our job is to clear the obstacles and support the body, before resorting to more invasive measures. If this belief makes us alternative medicine doctors, then so be it.

We look forward to meeting you!

– Lauren D. Loya, M.D.

Founder and Medical Director of The Hormone Center

At The Hormone Center, we put an underlying focus on the cause, not the symptom. We are an integrative medicine practice and put our clients first. Some of our most sought-after services include:

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The Hormone Center – Alternative Medicine | Holistic …

Recommendation and review posted by Bethany Smith

Hypopituitarism in Kids: Definition, Symptoms, Treatment

What is Hypopituitarism in Children?

The pituitary gland sends signals to other glands to produce hormones (for example, it makes thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH – which regulates production of thyroid hormone by the thyroid gland). The hormones released by the pituitary and other glands have a significant impact on important bodily functions, such as growth, reproduction, blood pressure, and metabolism (the physical and chemical processes of the body). When levels of one or more of these hormones are not properly balanced, the body’s normal functions can be affected.

The pituitary gland produces several hormones.

In hypopituitarism, the level of one or more of these pituitary hormones is insufficient. The lack of hormone results in a loss of function of the gland or organ that it controls.

The most common pituitary hormone deficiency is growth hormone deficiency. In the United States, growth hormone deficiency occurs rarely with a frequency of less than 1 in 3,480 children.

Hypopituitarism in Children Causes

Hypopituitarism may be congenital (a condition present at birth) and caused by:

Hypopituitarism can also be acquired (a condition that develops later in life) and may be caused by:

Hypopituitarism in Children Symptoms

Symptoms vary depending on the child’s age, underlying cause, and the involved hormone. Signs and symptoms may develop gradually and may not be specific.

Signs and symptoms that may be present in newborn babies include:

When to Seek Medical Care fo Hypopituitarism

Call the doctor or health care practitioner if the child develops symptoms.

Exams and Tests for Hypopituitarism

Blood tests may be performed to determine which hormone is low or absent.

The doctor may obtain an MRI of the brain to assess the structure of the pituitary or to detect a tumor.

Hypopituitarism Treatment

Treatment primarily involves hormone replacement therapy.

Medications

Drugs used to treat hypopituitarism replace the deficient hormone.

Hypopituitarism Surgery

Surgery may be performed if a tumor is present within or near the pituitary gland, depending on the type and location of the tumor, and depending on the symptoms being experienced.

Hypopituitarism Follow-up

The doctor or health care practitioner may schedule routine checkups every three months to monitor growth and development.

Frequent checkups for children on growth hormone replacement therapy may be scheduled to monitor progress and side effects.

A doctor who specializes in studying hormones (a pediatric endocrinologist) should supervise the treatment of children with hypopituitarism.

Outlook for Hypopituitarism

With appropriate treatment, the prognosis is very good.

John A. Seibel, MD; Board Certified Internal Medicine with a subspecialty in Endocrinology & Metabolism

REFERENCE:

“Causes and clinical manifestations of central adrenal insufficiency in children”UpToDate.com

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Hypopituitarism in Kids: Definition, Symptoms, Treatment

Recommendation and review posted by Rebecca Evans

Genetic Testing – KidsHealth

Genetic tests are done by analyzing small samples of blood or body tissues. They determine whether you, your partner, or your baby carry genes for certain inherited disorders.

Genetic testing has developed enough so that doctors can often pinpoint missing or defective genes. The type of genetic test needed to make a specific diagnosis depends on the particular illness that a doctor suspects.

Many different types of body fluids and tissues can be used in genetic testing. For deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) screening, only a very tiny bit of blood, skin, bone, or other tissue is needed.

For genetic testing before birth, pregnant women may decide toundergo amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling. There is also a blood test available to women to screen for some disorders. If this screening test finds a possible problem, amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling may be recommended.

Amniocentesis is a test usually performed between weeks 15 and 20of a woman’s pregnancy. The doctor inserts a hollow needle into the woman’s abdomen to remove a small amount of amniotic fluid from around the developing fetus. This fluid can be tested to check for genetic problems and to determine the sex of the child. When there’s risk of premature birth, amniocentesis may be done to see how far the baby’s lungs have matured. Amniocentesis carries a slight risk of inducing a miscarriage.

Chorionic villus sampling (CVS) is usually performed between the 10th and 12th weeks of pregnancy. The doctor removes a small piece of the placenta to check for genetic problems in the fetus. Because chorionic villus sampling is an invasive test, there’s a small risk that it can induce a miscarriage.

A doctor may recommend genetic counseling or testing for any of the following reasons:

Although advances in genetic testing have improved doctors’ ability to diagnose and treat certain illnesses, there are still some limits. Genetic tests can identify a particular problem gene, but can’t always predict how severely that gene will affect the person who carries it. In cystic fibrosis, for example, finding a problem gene on chromosome number 7 can’t necessarily predict whether a child will have serious lung problems or milder respiratory symptoms.

Also, simply having problem genes is only half the story because many illnesses develop from a mix of high-risk genes and environmental factors. Knowing that you carry high-risk genes may actually be an advantage if it gives you the chance to modify your lifestyle to avoid becoming sick.

As research continues, genes are being identified that put people at risk for illnesses like cancer, heart disease, psychiatric disorders, and many other medical problems. The hope is that someday it will be possible to develop specific types of gene therapy to totally prevent some diseases and illnesses.

Gene therapy is already being studied as a possible way to treat conditions like cystic fibrosis, cancer, and ADA deficiency (an immune deficiency), sickle cell disease, hemophilia, and thalassemia. However, severe complications have occurred in some patients receiving gene therapy, so current research with gene therapy is very carefully controlled.

Although genetic treatments for some conditions may be a long way off, there is still great hope that many more genetic cures will be found. The Human Genome Project, which was completed in 2003, identified and mapped out all of the genes (about 25,000) carried in our human chromosomes. The map is just the start, but it’s a very hopeful beginning.

Date reviewed: April 2014

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Genetic Testing – KidsHealth

Recommendation and review posted by sam

The Universe of Genetic Testing | Lab Tests Online

Clinical genetic testing refers to the laboratory analysis ofDNAorRNAto aid in the diagnosis of disease. It is very important to understand that clinical genetic testing is quite different than other types of laboratory tests. Genetic testing is unique in that it can provide definitive diagnosis as well as help predict the likelihood of developing a particular disease before symptoms even appear; it can tell if a person is carrying a specific gene that could be passed on to his or her children; it can inform as to whether some treatments will work before a patient starts therapy. These are definite advantages. However, there are also some qualities of genetic testing that should be carefully thought out and perhaps discussed with agenetic counselorbefore undergoing any test. These aspects are reviewed in the section titledPros and Cons of Genetic Testing. In an era of patient responsibility, it is important that you be educated in these matters to fully appreciate the value as well as the drawbacks of genetic testing.

Testing Genetic Material

Testing of genetic material is performed on a variety of specimens including blood, urine, saliva, stool, body tissues, bone, or hair. Cells in these samples are isolated and the nucleic acids (DNA or sometimes RNA) within them is extracted and examined for possiblemutationsor alterations. Looking at small portions of the DNA within agenerequires specialized and specific laboratory testing. This is done to pinpoint the exact location of genetic errors. This section will focus on the examination of a person’s genes to look for the one(s) responsible for a particular disease.

There are four basic reasons that genetic material is tested for clinical reasons. Presymptomatic testing identifies the presence of variant genes that cause disease even if the physical abnormalities associated with the disease are not yet present in an individual. Diagnostic genetic testing is performed on a symptomatic individual with symptoms sufficiently suggestive of a genetic disorder. This assists the individuals physician in making a clear diagnosis.

Testing of genetic material can also be performed as a prenatal screening tool to assess whether two individuals who wish to become parents have an autosomal orX-linked recessivegene that, when combined in a child, will produce a serious disorder in that child. This type of genetic testing is referred to ascarrierscreening. Fetuses developing in the uterus can also have their genetic material tested to assess their health status if it is thought to be in jeopardy.

To test DNA for medical reasons, some type of cellular material is required. This material can come from blood, urine, saliva, body tissues, bone marrow, hair, etc. The material can be submitted in a tube, on a swab, in a container, or frozen. If the test requires RNA, the same materials can be used. Once received in the laboratory, the cells are removed from the substance they are in, broken apart, and the DNA in thenucleiis isolated and extracted.

The laboratory professionals who perform and interpret these tests are specially trained physicians and scientists. The extracted DNA is manipulated in different ways in order for the molecular pathologist or genetic technologist to see what might be missing or mutated in such a way as to cause disease. One type of manipulation is “cutting” the DNA into small pieces using specialenzymes. These small pieces are much easier to test than the long strands of uncut DNA and they contain the genes of interest. Another manipulation is to apply the extracted and cut DNA to an agarose gel, apply an electrical field to the gel, and see how the DNA moves on the gel. This can indicate differences in the size of the pieces of the cut DNA that might be caused by specific mutations.

Other manipulations to DNA includeamplification, sequencing, or a special procedure called hybridization. When the results of these tests are examined and compared with results from a normal person, it is possible to see differences in the genes that might cause a disease.

Specific Genetic DiseasesThere are many diseases that are now thought to be caused by alterations in DNA. These alterations can either be inherited or can occur spontaneously. Some diseases that have a genetic component to them include:

Alzheimer’s DiseaseBone Marrow DisordersBreast Cancer

Ovarian CancerColon CancerCystic Fibrosis

Down SyndromeHemochromotosisLeukemia

LupusLymphomaOsteoarthritis

Pre-senilin MutationSickle Cell AnemiaThalassemia

Several things can go wrong with the genes that make up the DNA, resulting in these and other diseases. The section below discusses what can happen to DNA, and specifically to genes, that might lead to a disease.

Genetic Variation and MutationAll genetic variations or polymorphisms originate from the process of mutation. Genetic variations occur sometimes during the process ofsomatic celldivision (mitosis). Other genetic variations can occur during meiosis, the cycle of division that a sperm cell or anovumgoes through. Some variations are passed along through the generations, adding more and more changes over the years. Sometimes these mutations lead to disease; other times there is no noticeable effect. Genetic variations can be classified into different categories: stable genetic variations, unstable genetic variations, silent genetic variations, and other types.

Stable genetic variations are caused by specific changes in single nucleotides. These changes are called single nucleotide polymorphisms or SNPs and can include:

If the SNP causes a new amino acid to be made, it is called a “missense mutation.” An example of this is in sickle cell anemia, in which one nucleotide is substituted for another. The genetic variation in the gene causes a different amino acid to be added to a protein, resulting in a protein that doesn’t do its job properly and causes cells to form sickle shapes and not carry oxygen.

Unstable genetic variations occur when a nucleotide sequence repeats itself over and over. This is called a “repeat” and is usually normal; however, if the number of repeats increases too greatly, it is called an “expanded repeat” and has been found to be the cause of many genetic disorders. An example of a disease caused by an expanded repeat isHuntington disease, a severe disorder of a part of the brain that is marked by dementia, hydrocephalus, and unusual movements.

Silent genetic variations are those mutations or changes in a gene that do not change the protein product of the gene. These mutations rarely result in a disease.

Other types of variations occur when an entire gene is duplicated somewhere in a person’s genome. When this occurs, extra copies of the gene are present and make extra protein product. This is seen in a disorder that effects peripheral nerves and is called Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease type 1. Some variations occur in a special part of the gene that controls when DNA is copied to RNA. When the timing of protein production is thrown off, it results in decreased protein production. Other variations include a defect in a gene that makes a protein that serves to repair broken DNA in our cells. This variation can result in many types of diseases, including colorectal cancer and a skin disease called xeroderma pigmentosum.

Testing for Products of Genetic ExpressionMany inherited disorders are identified indirectly by examining abnormalities in the genetic end products (proteinsormetabolites) that are present in abnormal forms or quantities. As a reminder, genes code for the production of thousands of proteins and, if there is an error in the code, changes can occur in the production of those proteins. So, rather than detecting the problem in the gene, some types of testing look for unusual findings related to the pertinent proteins, such as their absence.

An example of testing for genetic products includes those widely used to screen newborns for a variety of disorders. For example, newborns are tested for phenylketonuria (PKU), an inherited autosomal recessive metabolic disorder caused by a variation in a gene that makes a special enzyme that breaks down phenylalanine, an amino acid. When too much of this substance builds up in blood, it can lead to mental retardation if not treated early in life with a special, restricted diet. The test uses a blood sample from a baby’s heel to look for the presence of extra phenylalanine, rather than looking for the mutated gene itself. Other examples include blood tests for congenital hypothyroidism, diagnosed by low blood levels or absence of thyroid hormone, and congenital adrenal hyperplasia, a genetic disease that causes the hormone cortisol to be decreased in blood. Frequently, abnormal blood screening tests in the newborn may be augmented by genetic testing when appropriate (in cystic fibrosis, for example).

Link:
The Universe of Genetic Testing | Lab Tests Online

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