Oxytocin Gene Methylation and Brain Development Impacted by Child Abuse

Scientists have demonstrated that child maltreatment is associated with DNA methylation of the gene that encodes oxytocin. By altering the regulation of oxytocin, child maltreatment cascades into alterations in brain development, structure, and function, as shown through brain imaging techniques. These insights could pave the way for novel therapeutic strategies to treat psychiatric disorders associated with childhood abuse.

mRNA COVID-19 Vaccine Improved through mRNA Backbone Optimization

With only 48% efficacy, CureVac’s first mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, CVnCoV, delivered disappointing results. Now, a second-generation mRNA vaccine, with optimization of non-coding regions, has demonstrated improved protection against COVID-19 in preclinical testing with 18 cynomolgus macaques. The new findings suggest that CV2CoV induced substantially higher binding and neutralizing antibodies, memory B cell responses, and T cell responses as compared with CVnCoV. Clinical trials of CV2CoV are planned.

New Facility Offers Quality Control for Gene and Cell Therapies

A Swedish bioanalytical services company is poised to open a Good Laboratory Practice-compliant laboratory for gene and cell therapies. TATAA Biocenter says the new facility will be among the first in the world to specialize in quality control (QC) analytics for nucleic acid-based therapies. To meet the sensitivities required for molecular analysis, the new facility has custom-built laboratory spaces.

COVID-19 Showed Biopharma Benefits of Innovation and Teamwork

While biopharma manufacturing continues to evolve at a rapid pace, there are multiple challenges still to be addressed to increase operational efficiencies. For example, 4.0 technologies have not yet been deployed extensively throughout the industry, certainly in comparison to other sectors. In particular, the application of data analytics throughout global manufacturing network shows considerable untapped potential.

Next Generation: Growing Protein Therapeutics Developer Raises $370M

The company’s platform integrates protein science expertise with structural biology, machine learning algorithms designed to analyze many millions of known proteins and peptides, looking for statistical patterns linking amino-acid sequence, structure, and function, data science, and computational infrastructure, which is supplemented with Generate’s own proprietary experimental data. The platform can also generate antibodies designed to bind specific epitopes on desired targets, allowing in silico generation of potent antibodies on demand.

Personalized T-Cell Immunotherapy for Children’s Brain Tumors

The study is reportedly the first to create a new workflow for neoantigen identification that incorporates both genetic sequencing and protein identification to create a personalized treatment for medulloblastoma in children, a common malignant brain tumor. Given these findings, the researchers are now designing a Phase I clinical trial slated to open in 12–18 months.

Lonza and Bluejay Therapeutics Ink Manufacturing Deal

Lonza will provide program tailored to Bluejay's needs to enable manufacturing of BJT-778, which is monoclonal antibody targeting hepatitis B virus (HBV) surface antigen (HBsAg). It is under preclinical development for the restoration of patient's adaptive immunity and functional cure for chronic HBV infection. The collaboration is designed to provide Bluejay access to cell line construction, process development, and drug product development and manufacturing.

Novel Antifungal Approach Targets Fat Production in Fungi

Scientists have identified a class of compounds that effectively inhibit fungal growth by targeting fungal fatty acid metabolism. The authors tested a library of small molecule compounds against fungal fatty acid synthase and desaturase enzymes that are essential for the growth and virulence of human fungal pathogens and identified 16 compounds that inhibited fatty acid desaturase. The compounds were effective against drug-resistant strains of several infectious fungi and showed little toxicity to mammalian cells.

Sneaky Strategy Used by Herpes Virus to Commute within Nervous System...

A Northwestern University study has uncovered how HSV-1 effectively hijacks a cellular protein from the epithelial cells that it initially infects, and uses this protein to infect and reach the nuclei of peripheral nervous system cells. The researchers say this repurposing of a cellular protein as an essential virion structural component—a process that they call assimilation—is to their knowledge unprecedented.

Nanocomputing Shows It Can Control Protein Function

The use of a logic gate is the beginning of what could be called cellular computing. It is a major milestone because it demonstrates the ability to embed conditional operations in a protein and control its function. It will allow researchers to gain a deeper understanding of human biology and disease and introduces possibilities for the development of precision therapeutics.