Saturday, January 26, 2008

Genentech and Biogen Idec Announce Positive Results from a Phase ...

Genentech and Biogen Idec Announce Positive Results from a Phase ...
Business Wire (press release) - San Francisco,CA,USA
Rituxan is being studied in primary progressive multiple sclerosis, for which there is currently no FDA-approved therapy. Rituxan is also being studied in ...
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News source: Business Wire
Genetic Engineering News (press release) - New Rochelle,NY,USA
Rituxan is being studied in primary progressive multiple sclerosis, for which there is currently no FDA-approved therapy. Rituxan is also being studied in ...
See all stories on this topic

Omega-3s Linked to Prevention of Parkinson's Disease and More
Biloxi Sun Herald - MS, USA
By Fats of Life - PUFA Newsletter A milestone report links long-chain (marine) omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) with the prevention of ...
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Golden Nugget to Host Film-Inspired Grand Poker Series
CardPlayer.com - Las Vegas,NV,USA
... tournament called Cards, Celebrity, and a Cause, which will be hosted by Montel Williams. The tournament will benefit the fight against multiple sclerosis.
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Needy can get drug prescriptions free or at lower cost
Arizona Daily Star - Tucson,AZ,USA
Then Romero saw a commercial for the assistance program, which featured talk-show host Montel Williams, who announced his multiple-sclerosis diagnosis in ...
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Genentech and Biogen Idec Announce Positive Results from a Phase ...
Centre Daily Times - Centre,PA,USA
Rituxan is being studied in primary progressive multiple sclerosis, for which there is currently no FDA-approved therapy. Rituxan is also being studied in ...
See all stories on this topic

NeoStem Honored as a Leading Biotechnology Company in Southern ...
CNNMoney.com - USA
The ability of people to readily harvest and store their own stem cells is the back bone of the fast growing area of regenerative medicine. ...
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Girl Switches Blood Type In 'One In Six Billion Miracle'

Girl Switches Blood Type In 'One In Six Billion Miracle'

Friday January 25, 2008

CityNews.ca Staff

Her name is Demi-Lee Brennan and until this week, the world never heard of her. But now the planet will never forget her name. The reason? She's become what medical experts call a 'one-in-six-billion miracle,' and they're trying to figure out how she did it.

The 15-year-old patient received a liver transplant and made history in the process, when her system suddenly changed blood groups from O negative to O positive and took on the immune system of her organ donor. Amazed doctors say it's the world's first known case and if they can solve the riddle of exactly how it happened, it may forever change the way transplants and organ donations are arranged.

"It's like my second chance at life," Brennan admits. "It's kind of hard to believe."

Here's what the experts know so far. The change came when Brennan became ill while on drugs used to prevent her body from  rejecting the new organ. Her liver's blood stem cells then went into her bone marrow and took over her immune system, ending the need for the drugs.

"There was no precedent for this having happened at any other time, so we were sort of flying by the seat of our pants," Michael Stormon, a pediatric hepatologist, agrees.

"We now need to go back over everything that happened to Demi-Lee and see why, and if it can be replicated," Stuart Dorney, the hospital's former transplant unit head, told a local Australian newspaper. "We think because we used a young person's liver and Demi-Lee had low white blood cells, that could have been a reason."

The news follows this week's other breakthrough that also promises to end organ rejection. Read more about that here.

http://www.citynews.ca/news/news_18945.aspx

A step closer to creating life out of chemical soup - Los Angeles Times

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Scientists replicate a bacterium's entire genome with off-the-shelf ingredients. The feat could lead to the production of medicines, industrial products and even renewable fuels.

By Karen Kaplan, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
January 25, 2008

Using off-the-shelf chemical compounds, scientists for the first time have constructed the entire genome of a bacterium, a key step toward their ultimate goal of creating synthetic life forms, researchers reported today.
The man-made DNA was nearly identical to the natural version on which it was based -- with minor modifications to identify it and render it harmless to people, according to the study in the journal Science.
The research team at the J. Craig Venter Institute in Rockville, Md., is now trying to insert the artificial DNA inside a living cell with the hope that it will take over its host and become the first synthetically created, self-replicating organism.
"This entire process started with four bottles of chemicals," said J. Craig Venter, who has been spearheading the overall project.
Scientists have previously pieced together individual genes and even whole viruses in the lab, but those were not independent life forms. The genome in this study -- from the bacterium Mycoplasma genitalium -- is more than 10 times larger than any previously synthesized.
Researchers in the nascent field of synthetic biology hope to use the method as a blueprint for designing microscopic creatures that can produce renewable fuels, medicines and industrial products.
"It's a cookbook for how to make big things," said Andrew Ellington, a biochemist at the University of Texas at Austin, who was not connected with the study.
Venter, the maverick scientist best known for challenging the federal government's effort to decode the human genome, has been studying M. genitalium for more than a decade.
With only 485 protein-coding genes and very little extraneous DNA, its genome is smaller than that of any other free-living organism.
Venter wants to make it even smaller and find out just how many genes are required to create "a minimal operating system for life."
About 100 of the genes can be removed individually without affecting the bacteria's ability to survive. But that doesn't mean all 100 genes can be deleted simultaneously. To determine how many are superfluous, he plans to make thousands of versions of the bacterium and see which ones can survive.
An organism's genome is made up of varying pairs of four chemicals -- adenine, thymine, cytosine and guanine. These base pairs form the rungs in the spiraling double helix of DNA.
Replicating M. genitalium's entire string of A's, Ts, Cs and Gs in the lab was the first step in Venter's plan.
Nature's version of the bacterium, which causes nongonococcal urethritis and other genital diseases, contains a single circular chromosome that is 580,076 base pairs long.
The research team started out with 101 small fragments of the genome, which were made by three commercial firms that specialize in synthesizing genes and other short DNA sequences.
Each fragment overlapped slightly with the ones on either side.
Then they assembled them into progressively larger chunks.
Four adjoining fragments were combined with an enzyme, which chewed off one strand of DNA at each end. DNA strands naturally pair up, and the overlapping fragments came together spontaneously, said Dr. Hamilton O. Smith, the Nobel Prize-winning biologist who led the team.
The resulting 25 larger pieces were injected into the bacterium Escherichia coli, which made thousands of copies as it divided. The copies were harvested and used in the next stage of the experiment.
The researchers used the same method to combine the 25 pieces into eight larger sections and then paired those up into four bigger segments before they maxed out the capacity of E. coli.
That prompted a switch to a yeast called Saccharomyces cerevisiae, which has a natural tendency to repair broken chromosomes. With the yeast, they were able to combine the four segments into two half-genomes. They made copies and then spliced together the two halves into a complete genome, Smith said.
Along the way, they added five short watermarks to differentiate between the original genome and the copy.
They also modified one of the genes to disable the bacteria's ability to stick to mammalian cells and cause diseases. The final version of the synthetic genome was 582,970 base pairs long. If printed out on paper in 10-point font, the genome would fill 147 pages.
"Reconstructing a natural bacterial genome from scratch is a great technical feat," said Drew Endy, a biological engineer at MIT, who wasn't involved in the study.
The next step for the researchers is to transplant the artificial DNA into a host bacterium and see if it will take over the cell.
Another team at the Venter Institute demonstrated last year that it could convert one species of Mycoplasma into another by replacing all of its DNA. But the species that served as a host in that experiment may not be the best for the synthetic genome, Smith said.
"It's not just a slam-dunk, or we would be announcing it today," Venter said. "But we're confident that they can be overcome, and it's a matter of time before we have it booted up in a cell."
With DNA synthesis technology doubling in power every 12 to 18 months, scientists should be able to create customized bacteria by 2012, Endy said.
"Getting better at building DNA . . . is incredibly important," he said.
The study was funded by Synthetic Genomics Inc. of Rockville, a privately held sister company to the Venter Institute that is designing cells that can produce clean energy.
A green jet fuel is currently being tested, and hundreds of other products could follow, Venter said.
But M. genitalium probably won't serve as the foundation for those future designer organisms because it is too difficult to grow in the lab, Smith said.
karen.kaplan@latimes.com
http://www.latimes.com/news/custom/scimedemail/la-sci-synthetic25jan25,0,3433611,full.story

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