Biotechnology – News – Times Topics – The New York Times

Posted: October 10, 2015 at 8:47 pm

Biotechnology companies are saving on taxes by transferring patents on their lucrative and expensive drugs to foreign subsidiaries; tactic is not as advantageous as an inversion, but provides substantial tax benefit. MORE

Bioengineers for the first time create functional three-dimensional brain-like tissue, discovery that could eventually be used to study brain disease, injury and treatment; research is published in the journal PNAS, and is the latest example of biomedical engineering being used to make realistic models of organs such as the heart, lungs and liver. MORE

Michael Behar article examines growing field of bioelectronics, in which implants are thought to be able to communicate directly with the nervous system in order to try to fight wide variety of diseases; notes that GlaxoSmithKline runs newly formed Bioelectronics R & D Unit, which has partnerships with 26 independent research groups in six countries. MORE

Scientists at Scripps Research Institute create first living organism with artificial DNA, taking significant step toward altering the fundamental alphabet of life; accomplishment could lead to new antibiotics, vaccines and other products, though a lot more work needs to be done before this is practical; research, published online in journal Nature, is bound to raise safety concerns and questions about whether humans are playing God. MORE

Jeff Sommer Strategies column argues that while recent surge in Internet and biotech stock values may recall notorious bubble of 2000, overall Standard & Poor's 500-stock index remains far more tethered to reality than it was in that period. MORE

Harlem Biospace, new business incubator focused on biotechnology, will provide start-up lab space in renovated former confectionery research lab on West 127th Street in Harlem, near City College and Columbia University; incubator represents new investment in a neighborhood that has for decades struggled to restore its former economic and social vitality. MORE

Dr Shoukhrat Mitalipov has shaken field of genetics with development of process in which nucleus can be removed from one human egg and placed into another; procedure, intended to help women conceive children without passing on genetic defects in their cellular mitochondria, has drawn ire of bioethicists and scrutiny of federal regulators. MORE

Food and Drug Administration's new proposal to purge artery-clogging trans fats from foods could ease marketing of genetically modified soybean, which has been manipulated to be free of trans fat; new beans, developed by Monsanto and DuPont Pioneer, could help image of biotechnology industry because they are among the first genetically modified crops with a trait that benefits consumers, as opposed to farmers. MORE

California Gov Jerry Brown vetoes bill that would have allowed biosimilar versions of biologic drugs to be substituted by pharmacists if Food and Drug Administration deemed them 'interchangeable' with the brand-name reference product. MORE

Hawaii has become hub for development of genetically engineered corn and other crops that are sold to farmers worldwide, and seeds are state's leading agricultural commodity; activists opposed to biotech crops have joined with residents who say corn farms expose them to dust and pesticides, and they are trying to drive companies away, or at least rein them in. MORE

Some farmers are noticing soil degradation after using glyphosate, while others argue that the herbicide, along with biotech crops, produces yields too profitable to give up; some critics warn that glyphosate may be producing herbicide-resistant 'superweeds'; issue is part of larger debate over long-term effects of biotech crops, which account for 90 percent of corn, soybeans and sugar beets grown in the United States. MORE

David Blech, who was once considered biotechnologys top gunslinger and was worth about $300 million, is about to begin a four-year prison term, having pleaded guilty to stock manipulation; Blech's downfall reflects maturation of biotechnology from get-rich-quick days to sophisticated, multibillion dollar industry. MORE

Researchers at laboratories around world are experimenting with bioprinting, process of using 3-D printing technology to assemble living tissue; while research has made great progress, there are still many formidable obstacles to overcome. MORE

Researchers at University of Illinois have used 3-D printer to make small hybrid 'biobots'--part part gel, part muscle cell--that can move on their own; research may someday lead to development of tiny devices that could travel within body, sensing toxins and delivering medication. MORE

Developers of biotechnology crops, facing increasing pressure to label genetically modified foods, begin campaign to gain support for products by promising openness; centerpiece of effort is Web site to answer questions posed by consumers about genetically engineered crops and will include safety data similar to that submitted to regulatory agencies. MORE

The rise of personalized medicine has spurred giant pharmaceutical companies to home in on small biotechnology firms. MORE

Physician and tissue engineer Mark Post is attempting to grow so-called in vitro meat, or cultured meat, in Netherlands laboratory through use of stem cells and techniques adapted from medical research for growing tissues and organs; arguments in favor of such technology include both animal welfare and environmental issues, but questions of cost, safety and taste remain. MORE

Group of hobbyists and entrepreneurs begin project to develop plants that glow, potentially leading way for trees that can replace electric streetlamps and potted flowers to read by; project, which will use sophisticated form of genetic engineering called synthetic biology, is unique in that it is not sponsored by corporate or academic interests, and may give rise to similar do-it-yourself ventures. MORE

Interview with Nick Goldman, British molecular biologist who led study that successfully stored digital information in synthetic DNA molecules and then recreated it without error; study, suggesting the possibility of a storage medium of immense scale and longevity, was published in journal Nature. MORE

Craig Venter, controversial scientist and the head of Synthetic Genomics Inc, is convinced that synthetic biology holds the key to solving many of the world's problems, and his company has been actively trying to find and use new microbes for wildly varied purposes. MORE

Obama administration will announce a broad plan to foster development of the nation's bioeconomy, including the use of renewable resources and biological manufacturing methods to replace harsher industrial methods. MORE

Firms are racing to cut the cost of sequencing the human genome, as hope rises for faster development of medical advances; promise is that low-cost gene sequencing will lead to a new era of personalized medicine, yielding new approaches for treating cancers and other serious diseases. MORE

Central New Jersey, with its concentration of pharmaceutical giants and academic powerhouses has long had the potential to be a major center for life sciences business, but has never lived up to that potential; now, signs of a small revival are apparent; the number of biotechnology companies has grown to 335 from 10 in 1998; a 64,000-square-foot specialized office building leased to Elementis PLC is being built on spec in a new Woodmont Properties development called SciPark. MORE

Essay by Stanford University bioengineer Drew Endy discusses the outlook for biological computers that could operate at the cellular and even genetic level. MORE

Geron, the company conducting the world's first clinical trial of a therapy using human embryonic stem cells, says it is halting that trial and leaving the stem cell business entirely; company says its move does not reflect a lack of promise for the controversial field, but a refocusing of its limited resources. MORE

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