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Trends in Biotechnology

Dominic Laaf, Pavla Bojarová, Lothar Elling, Vladimír Křen
Cellular communication events are mediated by interactions between cell-surface sugars and lectins, which are carbohydrate-binding proteins. Galectins are β-galactosyl-binding lectins that bridge molecules by their sugar moieties, forming a signaling and adhesion network. Severe changes in glycosylation and galectin expression accompany major processes in oncogenesis, cardiovascular disorders, and other pathologies, making galectins attractive therapeutic targets. Here we discuss advanced strategies of chemo-enzymatic carbohydrate synthesis for creating lead glycomimetics and (neo-)glycoconjugates for galectin-1 and -3 targeting in biomedicine and biotechnology...
November 6, 2018: Trends in Biotechnology
Leli Wang, Vinothkannan Ravichandran, Yulong Yin, Jia Yin, Youming Zhang
The mammalian gut has a remarkable abundance of microbes. These microbes have strong potential to biosynthesize distinct metabolites that are promising drugs, and many more bioactive compounds have yet to be explored as potential drug candidates. These small bioactive molecules often mediate important host-microbe and microbe-microbe interactions. In this review, we provide perspectives on and challenges associated with three mining strategies - culture-based, (meta)genomics-based, and metabolomics-based mining approaches - for discovering natural products derived from biosynthetic gene clusters (BGCs) in mammalian gut microbiota...
November 1, 2018: Trends in Biotechnology
Xiao-Jun Ji, He Huang
Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are important for human health. They are traditionally extracted from animals and plants but can be alternatively derived from oleaginous microbes, and engineering microbial metabolism can improve PUFA accumulation. The next frontier is to engineer more efficient PUFA-producing microbes using systems and synthetic biology tools.
October 27, 2018: Trends in Biotechnology
Wilson Wen Bin Goh, Chun Chau Sze
Artificial intelligence (AI) is profoundly changing biotechnological innovation. Beyond direct application, it is also a useful tool for adaptive learning and forging new conceptual connections within the vast network of knowledge for the advancement of biotechnology. Here, we discuss a new paradigm for biotechnology education that involves coevolution with AI.
October 22, 2018: Trends in Biotechnology
Michael Pineda, Ashley Lear, James P Collins, Samira Kiani
Applications of CRISPR in human health and in gene drives are at the forefront of biological research as tools. This technology will affect humankind and our environment, so as this technology pushes forward, the design and implementation of safety measures is imperative. Novel technologies and forethought in various applications of CRISPR are essential for using this technology safely. Here, we review environmental and health-related safety concerns associated with using CRISPR and ways proposed to minimize risk...
October 20, 2018: Trends in Biotechnology
Enrico Domenico Lemma, Barbara Spagnolo, Massimo De Vittorio, Ferruccio Pisanello
Two-photon lithography is a laser writing technique that can produce 3D microstructures with resolutions below the diffraction limit. This review focuses on its applications to study mechanical properties of cells, an emerging field known as mechanobiology. We review 3D structural designs and materials in the context of new experimental designs, including estimating forces exerted by single cells, studying selective adhesion on substrates, and creating 3D networks of cells. We then focus on emerging applications, including structures for assessing cancer cell invasiveness, whose migration properties depend on the cell mechanical response to the environment, and 3D architectures and materials to study stem cell differentiation, as 3D structure shape and patterning play a key role in defining cell fates...
October 18, 2018: Trends in Biotechnology
Danielle B Pedrolli, Nathan V Ribeiro, Patrick N Squizato, Victor N de Jesus, Daniel A Cozetto
Microbes can be engineered to act like living therapeutics designed to perform specific actions in the human body. From fighting and preventing infections to eliminating tumors and treating metabolic disorders, engineered living systems are the next generation of therapeutics. In recent years, synthetic biologists have greatly expanded the genetic toolbox for microbial living therapeutics, adding sensors, regulators, memory circuits, delivery devices, and kill switches. These advances have paved the way for successful engineering of fully functional living therapeutics, with sensing, production, and biocontainment devices...
October 11, 2018: Trends in Biotechnology
Michael Martinez, Mari Spitali, Edith L Norrant, Daniel G Bracewell
Advances in precipitation have demonstrated the capability of purifying therapeutic proteins such as antibodies from biological sources in a scalable and cost-effective manner. We discuss the latest developments in the unit operation for downstream processing applications and provide a perspective on exploring precipitation for bioprocess intensification.
October 10, 2018: Trends in Biotechnology
Ashok Prasad, Elaheh Alizadeh
Beautiful images of animal cells cultured on surfaces are ubiquitous in biological research, but these shapes also carry valuable information about the cells and the organism that they came from. Cell morphology is an emergent property of the cellular phenotype as well as of the physiological and signaling state of the cell. Many functional changes in cells cause stereotypical changes in cellular morphology, and some changes in shape can also cause characteristic changes in cellular phenotype. Thus, controlling cell shape through substrate engineering may emerge as another mechanism to modulate cell function for human health...
October 10, 2018: Trends in Biotechnology
Elizabeth Skellam
Fungi are a prolific source of bioactive compounds, some of which have been developed as essential medicines and life-enhancing drugs. Genome sequencing has revealed that fungi have the potential to produce considerably more natural products (NPs) than are typically observed in the laboratory. Recently, there have been significant advances in the identification, understanding, and engineering of fungal biosynthetic gene clusters (BGCs). This review briefly describes examples of the engineering of fungal NP biosynthesis at the global, pathway, and enzyme level using in vivo and in vitro approaches and refers to the range and scale of heterologous expression systems available, developments in combinatorial biosynthesis, progress in understanding how fungal BGCs are regulated, and the applications of these novel biosynthetic enzymes as biocatalysts...
October 10, 2018: Trends in Biotechnology
Lauren Swiney, Declan G Bates, John D Coley
We consider efforts to understand public perceptions of synthetic biology, describing a novel cognitive science approach indicating that cognitive biases constrain risk perceptions of synthetic biology. We discuss the implications of these findings and outline how they may be harnessed to improve the quality of public debate.
October 8, 2018: Trends in Biotechnology
Imma Gifuni, Antonino Pollio, Carl Safi, Antonio Marzocchella, Giuseppe Olivieri
Microalgae are increasingly considered as sources of renewable feedstocks for industrial production, and microalgae production now focuses on the multiproduct microalgal biorefinery. However, such a biorefinery presents several bottlenecks that are mainly associated with downstream processes. This reduced downstream efficiency results from unsolved problems related to the culture strategy for the accumulation of different products - the protein versus lipid dilemma - and the dilute nature of the microalgal culture...
October 6, 2018: Trends in Biotechnology
Jason Riordon, Dušan Sovilj, Scott Sanner, David Sinton, Edmond W K Young
Advances in high-throughput and multiplexed microfluidics have rewarded biotechnology researchers with vast amounts of data but not necessarily the ability to analyze complex data effectively. Over the past few years, deep artificial neural networks (ANNs) leveraging modern graphics processing units (GPUs) have enabled the rapid analysis of structured input data - sequences, images, videos - to predict complex outputs with unprecedented accuracy. While there have been early successes in flow cytometry, for example, the extensive potential of pairing microfluidics (to acquire data) and deep learning (to analyze data) to tackle biotechnology challenges remains largely untapped...
October 6, 2018: Trends in Biotechnology
Stuart J Smyth, Rim Lassoued
On 25 July 2018, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruled that gene-specific mutagenesis must be regulated as genetically modified organism (GMO) technologies. However, the costs to agricultural research and development (R&D) innovation will be staggering, not to mention the brain drain to other countries. As a result, Europe can now be known as the deathplace of agricultural breeding innovations.
October 4, 2018: Trends in Biotechnology
Yuan Rui, David R Wilson, Jordan J Green
Genome-editing technologies such as zinc-finger nucleases (ZFNs), transcription activator-like effector nucleases (TALENS), and the clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat (CRISPR)-associated protein system have revolutionized biological research. Each biotechnology consists of a DNA-binding protein that can be programmed to recognize and initiate double-strand breaks (DSBs) for site-specific gene modification. These technologies have the potential to be harnessed to cure diseases caused by aberrant gene expression...
September 29, 2018: Trends in Biotechnology
Adam C Fisher, Mark-Henry Kamga, Cyrus Agarabi, Kurt Brorson, Sau L Lee, Seongkyu Yoon
There is a trend across the pharmaceutical sector toward process intensification and continuous manufacturing to produce small-molecule drugs or biotechnology products. For biotechnology products, advancing the manufacturing technology behind upstream and downstream processes has the potential to reduce product shortages and variability, allow for production flexibility, simplify scale-up procedures, improve product quality, reduce facility footprints, increase productivity, and reduce production costs. On the upstream side of biotechnology manufacturing, continuous perfusion cell cultures are fairly well established...
September 18, 2018: Trends in Biotechnology
Omar S Ahmad, Thomas S Bedwell, Cem Esen, Alvaro Garcia-Cruz, Sergey A Piletsky
Molecular imprinting is the process of template-induced formation of specific recognition sites in a polymer. Synthetic receptors prepared using molecular imprinting possess a unique combination of properties such as robustness, high affinity, specificity, and low-cost production, which makes them attractive alternatives to natural receptors. Improvements in polymer science and nanotechnology have contributed to enhanced performance of molecularly imprinted polymer (MIP) sensors. Encouragingly, recent years have seen an increase in high-quality publications describing MIP sensors for the determination of biomolecules, drugs of abuse, and explosives, driving toward applications of this technology in medical and forensic diagnostics...
September 18, 2018: Trends in Biotechnology
Matthew J Lee, David J Palmer, Martin J Warren
Bacterial microcompartments (BMCs) represent proteinaceous macromolecular nanobioreactors that are found in a broad range of bacteria, and which are associated with either anabolic or catabolic processes. They consist of a semipermeable outer shell that packages a central metabolic enzyme or pathway, providing both enhanced flux and protection against toxic intermediates. Recombinant production of BMCs has led to their repurposing with the incorporation of altogether new pathways. Deconstructing BMCs into their component parts has shown that some individual shell proteins self-associate into filaments that can be further modified into a cytoplasmic scaffold, or cytoscaffold, to which enzymes/proteins can be targeted...
September 17, 2018: Trends in Biotechnology
Grace Mackie, Lingzi Gao, Stephen Yau, Daniel C Leslie, Anna Waterhouse
Immobilized liquid (IL) surface coatings are an emerging technology that provide to materials the ability to repel complex biological fluids and hold promise in medical applications to prevent biological fouling, especially in the context of preventing medical device-induced thrombosis, fibrosis, and biofilm formation. However, little is known about the biological interactions of the IL with proteins and cells, and an increased understanding is critical for optimal device application, function, and successful clinical translation...
September 15, 2018: Trends in Biotechnology
Fengxue Xin, Weiliang Dong, Wenming Zhang, Jiangfeng Ma, Min Jiang
Biobutanol production directly from lignocellulose, known as consolidated bioprocessing (CBP), is expected to be much less expensive than a process where hydrolytic enzyme production, cellulose saccharification, and microbial fermentation are accomplished separately. However, few microbes possess both cellulolytic and solventogenic properties in nature. Current research aims to endow cellulolytic microorganisms with butanol-producing ability or to set up microbial consortia for CBP. This review comprehensively details current achievements attempting to confer butanol-generating ability, not only to cellulolytic Clostridium strains but also to microbial consortia, to address and overcome major challenges in butanol production from cellulose...
September 14, 2018: Trends in Biotechnology
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