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In the initial phase of the process [...] the scientist works through imagination, as does the artist. Only later, when critical testing and experimentation come into play, does science diverge from art. - François Jacob (translated from French).
📰 Bioengineering in the News
I wish I could engineer my metabolism.
MARS WITHIN REACH: Perseverance made it to Mars. But for humans to do the same, we will need biotechnology; this article takes a look at European companies developing technologies that will help heal astronauts, grow food and produce clean oxygen. Labiotech.eu. Link
ORDER YOUR FUNGUS: A company called Nature’s Fynd is taking pre-orders for their cream cheese and “meatless” breakfast patties made from a fungus found in Yellowstone National Park. Adventurous! Tech Crunch. Link
AMERICAN MICROBES: Farmers have traditionally relied on chemistry—pesticides and fertilizer—to grow healthy crops in a changing climate. Soon, though, farmers may turn to microbes for the same. Bioeconomy.xyz. Link
ISRAELI RESEARCH CENTER: The Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya has launched a synthetic biology research center. Dr. Yuval Dorfan is the director. Press release. Link
BIOTECH FIGHTS HUNGER: Engineered crops, synthetic pesticides, nutrient-laden rice: synthetic biology has done a lot to fight hunger. Its next challenge will be to end hunger in a sustainable, equitable way. SynBioBeta. Link
CRISPR ETHICS: An intriguing opinion piece, in Scientific American, takes a fresh look at an old question: When should CRISPR be used on people? Scientific American. Link
GMO SALMON BAN: Some large food companies have banned GMO salmon before they even enter the market. The Counter. Link
THE CRISPR APP: New software, called DECODR, can help sift through large DNA sequence datasets after a CRISPR-editing experiment and identify off-target effects. Press Release. Link
HANNA GREY FELLOWS: The Howard Hughes Medical Institute announced the 2020 Hanna Grey Fellows. The 21 awardees each receive eight years of research support. A couple synthetic biologists made the list. HHMI Press Release. Link
More (Weird) Stories…
ALLERGIC TO RESEARCH: Some researchers are developing allergies to their test subjects. Spooky. Undark. Link
GLOWING MAMMAL: Springhares—a type of rodent native to Africa—are fluorescent under UV light. The New York Times. Link
Press releases…what are they good for?
ERS Genomics (co-owned by Emmanuele Charpentier) and ZeClinics have signed a non-exclusive license for the use of the former company’s CRISPR patent portfolio. ZeClinics conducts pre-clinical testing with a zebrafish model, using the organism to assess “the safety, efficacy and biomedical relevance of new compounds.” Business Wire. Link
Evolve BioSystems, a Davis, Ca. based company developing probiotics to “restore the infant gut microbiome,” has received investment from Cargill and Manna Tree as part of their Series D funding round. It is a “first close” in what will be a $55 million round. PR Newswire. Link
Excision BioTherapeutics, a San Francisco, Ca. based developer of CRISPR anti-virals, raised $60 million in financing. The funds will support the company’s clinical development of a potential HIV cure. Globe Newswire. Link
Jazz Pharmaceuticals acquired GW Pharmaceuticals for €6 billion this month. The latter was the first company to gain market approval for a “natural cannabis plant derivative”—a treatment for multiple sclerosis—in any country. A feature story on this, in Labiotech.eu. Link
Microvi, based in Union City, Ca., has been awarded $1.12 million from the National Institutes of Health to develop a machine learning platform “to predict optimal microorganisms for a given water treatment application…” PR Newswire. Link
Molecular Templates, an Austin, Tx. based clinical-stage company developing “immunotoxins” that can destroy cancer cells, signed a deal with Bristol Myers Squibb to develop new oncology therapies. The agreement could be worth up to $1.3 billion. Biospace. Link
Until next time,