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Trends in Biotechnology

Yuxuan Yuan, Philipp E Bayer, Jacqueline Batley, David Edwards
Second-generation sequencing (SGS) has advanced the study of crop genomes and has provided insights into diversity and evolution. However, repetitive DNA sequences in crops often lead to incomplete or erroneous assemblies because SGS reads are too short to fully resolve these repeats. To overcome some of these challenges, long-read sequencing and optical mapping have been developed to produce high-quality assemblies for complex genomes. Previously, high error rates, low throughput, and high costs have limited the adoption of long-read sequencing and optical mapping...
March 8, 2017: Trends in Biotechnology
Yali Wang, Dongbo Wang, Qi Yang, Guangming Zeng, Xiaoming Li
Denitrifying anaerobic methane oxidation (DAMO) can concurrently reduce methane emissions and nitrogen levels in aquatic environments, but how useful is this process? We propose the use of DAMO-based technology as a tool for sustainably operating wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs).
March 7, 2017: Trends in Biotechnology
Ariel Fernández
Immune checkpoint blockades induced by antibodies are revolutionizing cancer therapy. Combinations of checkpoint immunotherapies with kinase inhibitors (KIs) are being clinically evaluated as oncogenic mutations arise. Off-target KI cross-reactivity will often compromise synergistic efficacy, with KIs suppressing T-cell functionalities that checkpoint blockers are purportedly boosting. This incompatibility may be removed through molecular optimization.
March 7, 2017: Trends in Biotechnology
Wilbert Sybesma, Imre Blank, Yuan-Kun Lee
Here, we elaborate on the natural origin and use of enzymes and cultures in sustainable food processing. We also illustrate how enzymatically treated or fermented food can contribute to solving challenges involving nutrition and health, such as aging, malnutrition, obesity, and allergy.
March 7, 2017: Trends in Biotechnology
Guang-Min Yu, Teruo Maeda
An inline progesterone monitoring system that works automatically and provides real-time physiological information about lactating dairy cows for making farm management decisions is not only a novel tool for scientific research but also improves productivity, food safety, animal well-being, the environment, and the public perception of the dairy industry.
March 6, 2017: Trends in Biotechnology
Roland Marmeisse, Harald Kellner, Laurence Fraissinet-Tachet, Patricia Luis
Eukaryotic microorganisms from diverse environments encompass a large number of taxa, many of them still unknown to science. One strategy to mine these organisms for genes of biotechnological relevance is to use a pool of eukaryotic mRNA directly extracted from environmental samples. Recent reports demonstrate that the resulting metatranscriptomic cDNA libraries can be screened by expression in yeast for a wide range of genes and functions from many of the different eukaryotic taxa. In combination with novel emerging high-throughput technologies, we anticipate that this approach should contribute to exploring the functional diversity of the eukaryotic microbiota...
March 6, 2017: Trends in Biotechnology
Krishna Ravi Srinivas
Despite criticisms, public engagement is a necessary part of the process to democratize science. Organizations such as the US National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) have recognized its importance. Citizen science and stakeholder involvement in medical research demonstrate that the public is not always a passive beneficiary of science and can contribute to it.
March 3, 2017: Trends in Biotechnology
Marcel Kuntz
Given that some groups want to force scientists into "public engagement", it is legitimate to engage in a debate about the ideology of those groups, which I define as postmodern. Postmodernism tries to impose social coercive tools in the form of 'democratization of science' or 'Responsible Research and Innovation'.
February 28, 2017: Trends in Biotechnology
Roland Wohlgemuth, Andreas Liese, Wolfgang Streit
Phosphorus is a key element for life that occurs in living cells as a structural part of many key biochemicals. Phosphorus plays important functional roles in biocatalysis, such as making metabolic reaction steps irreversible by transferring energy-rich groups, using phosphate groups as leaving groups, or selectively hydrolyzing phosphorus-oxygen or phosphorus-nitrogen bonds. The large number of biocatalysts known to catalyze the transfer of phosphorus-containing groups from donor molecules to acceptor molecules covers a wide variety of reaction classes...
February 27, 2017: Trends in Biotechnology
Yensi Flores Bueso, Mark Tangney
Synthetic biology is revolutionising the biotech industry and is increasingly applied in previously unthought-of markets. Here, we discuss the importance of this industry to the bioeconomy and two of its key factors: the synthetic biology approach to research and development (R&D), and the unique nature of the carefully designed, stakeholder-inclusive, community-directed evolution of the field.
February 26, 2017: Trends in Biotechnology
Asheley R Landrum, William K Hallman
As science communication scholars, we encourage interdisciplinary efforts such as those by Blancke, Grunewald, and De Jaeger to engage with the public on GMOs and genetic engineering broadly. We extend the advice given by these scholars with tips based on what we know from the science of science communication.
February 16, 2017: Trends in Biotechnology
Pavel Majumdar, Deepak Pant, Snehangshu Patra
Recent breakthroughs have reinvigorated the century-old research domain of artificial photosynthesis. Here, we highlight CO2-reducing and O2-liberating integrated photobioelectrochemical systems that contain novel enzymatic cathodes and photoanodes. These devices, which are completely self-driven by solar energy with unprecedented efficiency and stability, have important implications for biotechnological research communities.
February 16, 2017: Trends in Biotechnology
Jürgen Pleiss
The experimentally determined Michaelis constant Km results from a combination of two effects: the recognition of the substrate by the enzyme and the interactions between substrate and solvent. For a solvent-independent analysis of substrate specificity, the thermodynamic activity of the substrate, rather than its concentration, must be considered.
February 9, 2017: Trends in Biotechnology
David I Walsh, David S Kong, Shashi K Murthy, Peter A Carr
The traditional requirement for clean rooms and specialized skills has inhibited many biologists from pursuing new microfluidic innovations. Makerspaces provide a growing alternative to clean rooms: they provide low-cost access to fabrication equipment such as laser cutters, plotter cutters, and 3D printers; use commercially available materials; and attract a diverse community of product designers. This Opinion discusses the materials, tools, and building methodologies particularly suited for developing novel microfluidic devices in these spaces, with insight into biological applications and leveraging the maker community...
February 2, 2017: Trends in Biotechnology
Sam Cooper, Chris Bakal
The dynamics of signalling networks that couple environmental conditions with cellular behaviour can now be characterised in exquisite detail using live single-cell imaging experiments. Recent improvements in our abilities to introduce fluorescent sensors into cells, coupled with advances in pipelines for quantifying and extracting single-cell data, mean that high-throughput systematic analyses of signalling dynamics are becoming possible. In this review, we consider current technologies that are driving progress in the scale and range of such studies...
February 1, 2017: Trends in Biotechnology
Alejandra Wong-Arce, Omar González-Ortega, Sergio Rosales-Mendoza
Immunotherapies constitute an important trend in developing new cancer treatments, and several promising candidates are under evaluation in clinical trials. Plants have entered the fight against cancer because they constitute low-cost and efficient hosts for biopharmaceutical production that can also serve as oral delivery vehicles. This review is focused on the knowledge gained through the development of anticancer plant-made vaccines reported thus far, and highlights the potential of this technology - its success being reflected in the number of candidates that are close to market...
January 30, 2017: Trends in Biotechnology
Benedikt Warth, Nadine Levin, Duane Rinehart, John Teijaro, H Paul Benton, Gary Siuzdak
Cloud-based bioinformatic platforms address the fundamental demands of creating a flexible scientific environment, facilitating data processing and general accessibility independent of a countries' affluence. These platforms have a multitude of advantages as demonstrated by omics technologies, helping to support both government and scientific mandates of a more open environment.
January 20, 2017: Trends in Biotechnology
Joanna K L Wong, Rashin Mohseni, Amir Ali Hamidieh, Robert E MacLaren, Nagy Habib, Alexander M Seifalian
The high mortality rates of cancer patients receiving standard treatments emphasize the crucial need for alternative treatments. One promising strategy is to use organic nanoparticles (NPs) for gene delivery. Although multifunctional NPs theoretically have many desirable properties as gene vectors, there are several practical barriers to successful gene delivery. In this review we discuss the properties of NPs and overview in vitro and preclinical studies of organic NPs over the past 5 years. The results of recent clinical trials suggest that the NP field holds significant promise...
January 17, 2017: Trends in Biotechnology
Sandeep Kumar Vashist, E Marion Schneider, A G Venkatesh, John H T Luong
Human fetuin A (HFA) plays a prominent pathophysiological role in numerous diseases and pathophysiological conditions with considerable biomedical significance; one example is the formation of calciprotein particles in osteoporosis and impaired calcium metabolisms. With impressive advances in in vitro diagnostic assays during the last decade, ELISAs have become a workhorse in routine clinical diagnostics. Recent diagnostic formats involve high-sensitivity immunoassay procedures, surface plasmon resonance, rapid immunoassay chemistries, signal enhancement, and smartphone detection...
January 13, 2017: Trends in Biotechnology
Areti Tsigkinopoulou, Syed Murtuza Baker, Rainer Breitling
Although there is still some skepticism in the biological community regarding the value and significance of quantitative computational modeling, important steps are continually being taken to enhance its accessibility and predictive power. We view these developments as essential components of an emerging 'respectful modeling' framework which has two key aims: (i) respecting the models themselves and facilitating the reproduction and update of modeling results by other scientists, and (ii) respecting the predictions of the models and rigorously quantifying the confidence associated with the modeling results...
January 13, 2017: Trends in Biotechnology
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