The most controversial applications of biotechnology involve the use of animals and the transfer of genes from animals to plants. The first animal-based application of biotechnology was the approval of the use of bacterially produced bovine somatotropin (bST) in dairy cows.
Bovine somatotropin, a naturally occurring hormone , increases milk production. This application has not been commercially successful, however, primarily because of its expense. The cloning of animals is another potential application of biotechnology. Most experts believe that animal applications of biotechnology will occur slowly because of the social and ethical concerns of consumers.
Concerns about Food Production
Some concerns about the use of biotechnology for food production include possible allergic reactions to the transferred protein . For example, if a gene from Brazil nuts that produces an allergen were transferred to soybeans, an individual who is allergic to Brazil nuts might now also be allergic to soybeans. As a result, companies in the United States that develop genetically engineered foods must demonstrate to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that they did not transfer proteins that could result in food allergies . When, in fact, a company attempted to transfer a gene from Brazil nuts to soybeans, the company's tests revealed that they had transferred a gene for an allergen, and work on the project was halted. In 2000 a brand of taco shells was discovered to contain a variety of genetically engineered corn that had been approved by the FDA for use in animal feed, but not for human consumption. Although several antibiotechnology groups used this situation as an example of potential allergenicity stemming from the use of biotechnology, in this case the protein produced by the genetically modified gene was not an allergen. This incident also demonstrated the difficulties in keeping track of a genetically modified food that looks identical to the unmodified food. Other concerns about the use of recombinant DNA technology include potential losses of biodiversity and negative impacts on other aspects of the environment.
Safety and Labeling
In the United States, the FDA has ruled that foods produced though biotechnology require the same approval process as all other food, and that there is no inherent health risk in the use of biotechnology to develop plant food products. Therefore, no label is required simply to identify foods as products of biotechnology. Manufacturers bear the burden of proof for the safety of the food. To assist them with this, the FDA developed a decision-tree approach that allows food processors to anticipate safety concerns and know when to consult the FDA for guidance. The decision tree focuses on toxicants that are characteristic of each species involved; the potential for transferring food allergens from one food source to another; the concentration and bioavailability of nutrients in the food; and the safety and nutritional value of newly introduced proteins.
Monday, 29 December 2008
The most controversial applications of biotechnology involve the use of animals and the transfer of genes from animals to plants. The first animal-based application of biotechnology was the approval of the use of bacterially produced bovine somatotropin (bST) in dairy cows.
Saturday, 27 December 2008
Osteoporosis attacks 10% of the population worldwide. Humans or even the model animals of the disease cannot recover from porous bone. Regeneration in skeletal elements is the unique feature of our newly investigated osteoporosis model, the red deer (Cervus elaphus) stag.
Cyclic physiological osteoporosis is a consequence of the annual antler cycle. This phenomenon raises the possibility to identify genes involved in the regulation of bone mineral density on the basis of comparative genomics between deer and human. We compare gene expression activity of osteoporotic and regenerating rib bone samples versus autumn dwell control in red deer by microarray hybridization. Identified genes were tested on human femoral bone tissue from non-osteoporotic controls and patients affected with age-related osteoporosis.
Expression data were evaluated by Principal Components Analysis and Canonical Variates Analysis. Separation of patients into a normal and an affected group based on ten formerly known osteoporosis reference genes was significantly improved by expanding the data with newly identified genes. These genes include IGSF4, FABP3, FABP4, FKBP2, TIMP2, TMSB4X, TRIB, and members of the Wnt signaling. This study supports that extensive comparative genomic analyses, here deer and human, provide a novel approach to identify new targets for human diagnostics and therapy.
Friday, 26 December 2008
As per the U.S. Energy Information Administration web site, there are a number of chemical compounds found in the Earth's atmosphere that act as greenhouse gases. When sunlight strikes the Earth's surface, some of it is reflected back towards space as infrared radiation, or heat.
Over time, the amount of energy sent from the sun to the Earth's surface should be about the same as the amount of energy radiated back into space, leaving the temperature of the Earth's surface roughly constant, but greenhouse gases absorb this infrared radiation and trap it in the atmosphere, causing conditions such as climactic change. Biofriendly Corporation's Green Plus liquid fuel catalyst greatly assists in easing greenhouse gas emissions, and assists in restoring the proper balance.
"Carbon dioxide emissions, resulting from the use of petroleum, represent 42 percent of total U.S. human-made greenhouse gas emissions," says Robert W. Carroll, Chairman and CEO of Biofriendly Corporation. "We are very pleased to offer a product which reduces such emissions and contributes to restoring our atmosphere to a more natural state."
According to the U.S.I.A. web site, concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are naturally regulated by numerous processes collectively known as the "carbon cycle." While these natural processes can absorb some of the net 6.1 billion metric tons of man-made carbon dioxide emissions produced each year, an estimated 3.2 billion metric tons is added to the atmosphere annually. The Earth's positive imbalance between emissions and absorption results in the continuing growth in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
A large percentage of carbon dioxide emissions come from automobiles, trucks and ships. The reason these vehicles create such a large amount of carbon dioxide emissions is that they only convert 30-40% of the fuel burned into energy, some of the wasted energy is converted into exhaust emissions such as carbon dioxide. Green Plus converts more fuel into energy with a "positive domino effect" - that is, a more complete burn, a more linear burn and a cooler burn. This in turn delivers more power, more torque, better fuel economy and fewer harmful emissions. The best way to reduce carbon dioxide emissions is to burn less fuel and Green Plus can help to do this.
Thursday, 25 December 2008
The Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) has come up with this online database of women scientists working in the field of agriculture.
The database’s objectives are:
* To promote activities such as diversity-positive recruitment.
* To promote international teamwork among women agriculturalists
* To promote cross-cultural communications among women scientists in the agricultural sector.
* Showcase women talent in the field of agriculture.
* Advance women’s interests by availing information on scholarships and agricultural-related training opportunities.
I am more interested in the last two objectives. CGIAR largely operates in developing countries that suffer chronic food shortages. Among its many programs, CGIAR uses modern agricultural biotechnology to solve poor countries’ food problems.
There is a whole gamut of women scientists working in the field of agricultural biotechnology. Many have, and continue to excel in their respective areas of specialization. Africa, for example, has Dr. Florence Wambugu who has distinguished herself as an ardent advocate of agricultural biotechnology as an affective tool to alleviate hunger and malnutrition.
There are more women scientists of Dr. Wambugu’s competence in the developing world, but they are hardly known beyond the borders of their countries. Existing societal biases makes it hard from them to explore opportunities for advancement. This makes it hard for them to grow both professionally and career wise. This database must elevate the profile of such women scientists. The agricultural world needs them.
The biotech industry is fast gaining prominence. Africa and other developing regions of the world would only benefit from the many potential applications of biotechnology not only by developing a mass of well trained biotechnologists, but also exposing them to the world. This database is an invaluable avenue for women scientists wishing to explore the world.
To ensure that this database better benefits women scientists, CGIAR should consider working closely with national and international scientific institutions because they well understand the needs of their women scientists.
Wednesday, 24 December 2008
Each year millions of biological samples are processed, distributed, and stored worldwide. Currently samples such as DNA, RNA, proteins, bacteria, viruses, tissues, and other biological molecules are stored cold to prevent or reduce the rate of degradation. Even for small labs maintaining these cold environments requires multiple expensive refrigeration and freezer units, all of which greedily consume energy and limited laboratory budgets.
Current methods of RNA genes sample transport are also problematic—as shipping frozen samples on dry ice is expensive, with shipments costing hundreds of dollars due to bulky containers and expedited delivery costs. Unfortunately for RNA genes, even under carefully monitored cold storage environments, repeated RNA freeze-thaw cycles and fluctuating temperatures only serve to promote degradation and compromise results.
All too often we are reminded that the RNA Genes power requirements necessary for a constant cold chain can be difficult to maintain through rolling blackouts, natural or man-made disasters, and the simple fact that only a small portion of the world can consistently supply power 24/7 for RNA.
Power outages can lead to extensive and even insurmountable sample loss for individual labs, or even entire institutions, bringing into sharp focus the precarious nature of archived biological specimens. If a back-up RNA genes freezer system is not available, precious samples are impossible to replace. The costs in economic terms are tangible for RNA, if not downright painful, to researchers who could use these resources more productively elsewhere.
Despite all the precautions taken to keep samples cold, preservation is still not perfect. The average DNA/RNA genes sample, one of Nature’s hardiest molecules, lasts for about a decade—not long enough if the sample is needed for future reference, as is the case for forensic samples.
Far more problematic are RNA samples, which are difficult to work with given their highly labile nature and tendency to degrade even under carefully controlled RNase-free conditions and cold storage. Even a short period of slightly elevated temperatures can compromise RNA integrity and detrimentally affect performance in downstream assays for RNA genes.
Interest in RNA is on the upswing due to its utility as a gene silencer and potential target for therapeutic drugs. A tremendous amount of research has also been devoted to its role in gene expression studies. Despite all of this, RNA remains decidedly scientist unfriendly. Once RNA genes is thawed, a certain anxiety overcomes the scientist to make sure everything is done quickly before it degrades. Current methodologies are limited to storing RNA, either purified or in tissue, in cold environments; until recently there were no products that stabilized RNA at room temperature.
GeneWize Life Sciences is a 12 year old biotech publicly traded company that has developed thousands of products in the past years and continues delivering state of the art nutritional products developed through extensive research about genetic nutrition.
Genewize Life Sciences have opened a marketing division using the multilevel marketing approach, and we stand to benefit tremendously thanks to this decision. They hosted an exciting live launch event in Orlando and the main leaders and physicians in Gene Wize were all gathered to discuss the future of this company.
We lauched live from Orlando, Florida on August 1st 2008 from the Hilton Disney Resort.
The huge buzz from this company’s pre-launch filled the auditorium with over 1000 people!
Why? It’s simple…
Because people are attracted to the product, the science and an opportunity to earn amazing incomes by just sharing this much requested information with the masses.
Gene Wize Customized Products are the future of nutrition- Genetic Nutrition- custom tailored to your needs, and yours alone!!
Sunday, 21 December 2008
Drug development is not a simple process. The process is more comprehensible if an individual joins a project team at its inception rather than as a replacement team member, as is often the case. It is at the initial team meetings that the core development strategy is decided. Successful drug development depends on the quality of the development strategy.
Ultimately, successful drug development is about translating science into an optimal investment proposal that provides value to a variety of stakeholders and customers. This can be achieved only by establishing a strategy that recognizes who the customers for new medicines are and addresses their needs. This will mean moving increasingly from designing "for" to designing "with" the customer.
Most countries have experienced significant changes to health care in recent years, and change is expected to continue in the future. Probably the greatest challenge to be faced will be the expectation that new medicines will be not only safe and effective, but will also be cost effective in the overall context of disease management. The role of management and marketing is essential in achieving these objectives.
Our Management and Marketing course is intended to give both general and specific information and guidelines to help manage pharmaceutical projects in a biopharmaceutical research, development and manufacturing environment. This program is designed to provide a focused course of study for individuals seeking to position themselves in the pharmaceutical and biotechnological industry as project managers and marketing specialists. It will also provide knowledge and skills in Good Laboratory, Clinical and Manufacturing Practices.
This course provides a comprehensive overview of the roles/responsibilities of both the pharmaceutical project manager and the marketing specialist in the pharmaceutical industry. This program was created to provide you with the key aspects, differences, challenges, job criteria and demands, and industry expectations in this field. Course content will focus on key concepts and information essential to effectively function in the pharmaceutical / biotechnological industrial arena. This course can open doors to new and exciting career opportunities in pharmaceutical management and marketing as the demand for qualified and trained specialists is still growing.
For example, Project Manager Functions in clinical trials project might include:
1. Clarification of requirements with the client.
2. Project Planning, to coordinate activities and organizational entities to keep projects on track
3. Evaluation of risks
4. Reporting of key stages to top management
5. Evaluation of patient numbers, data quality, GCP standards in Study Centers
6. IRBs / EC (centers covered and time scales)
7. Protocol approval, regulatory approval, appointment of CRAs
8. External suppliers: CRF printing, CROs, investigative drugs manufacturing, bulk, placebo manufacturing, drug packaging, central laboratory, contract biometrics
9. Financial management skills to estimate and monitor budgets.
10. Start project and monitor rigorously until completion
11. Mentor project team members with respect to project and program management
The responsibilities of a Marketing Manager might include:
1. Developing and implementing marketing strategies with the client;
2. Monitoring, analyzing and interpreting market trends;
3. Planning and executing marketing communications and promotional material; and
4. Working in a team environment to develop marketing strategies, tactics and activities.
* Typical starting salaries range from $ 40,000 to $ 60,000 USD
* Typical salaries with 3 and more years of experience range from $60,000 to $ 90,000 USD
* Salaries vary quite widely from company to company. A car is generally provided and bonuses may be paid.
* Jobs are found in restricted locations. Some work is localized (company laboratory) and some are regionally based.
The relevant degree subject area for a career in clinical marketing and management is post-secondary education in marketing or commerce. A Masters in Business Administration (MBA) is beneficial, as is a degree in a life sciences area.
Skills employers generally seek for clinical marketing and management positions include:
· A strong business perspective, particularly in market strategy and product development;
· Demonstrated organizational and administrative skills;
· Conceptual and strategic thinking;
· Excellent communication, negotiation and presentation skills; and
· Ability to work in a team environment;
You would either be employed directly by pharmaceutical companies or by contract research organizations (CRO - agencies which employ clinical research staff to contract out to pharmaceutical companies).
Saturday, 20 December 2008
The rapid growth of the biotechnology industry has resulted in numerous attractive biotech jobs opportunities. The industry is responsible for new drugs, diagnostic tests and genetic engineering. Biotechnology is another industrial revolution.
Major biotechnology firms have set up operations in the USA, United Kingdom, Switzerland and Asia. The US biotechnology industry is regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Agriculture.
A large number of biotechnology companies are start-ups and are largely dependant on venture capital to grow the firm. Small biotechs often enter into partnerships with big pharmaceutical firms that support their research programs and help them in the manufacturing and marketing of the final products.
Genentech is one of the oldest biotechnology companies in the world. Other major players in the biotechnology segment are Amgen, Genzyme, Celgene, Amylin Pharmaceuticals, Gilead Sciences, and MedImmune.
Pharmaceutical giants like Pfizer are taking over smaller biotechnology firms in need of capital to further their research. The merger and acquisition activity in the biotechnology segment gains momentum with the rising interest of venture capitalists seeking exit strategies.
Friday, 19 December 2008
Nanotechnology researchers are often troubled by lack of availability of biotechnology products. However, now research itself is being claimed to have found a solution.
Nanotechnology research is an ever growing area of science, and scientists working in its realm use a variety of substances to build atomic scale structures.
To solve their problem of shortage of raw materials, scientists at the Arizona State University' Biodesign Institute plan to use cells as manufacturing units to make DNA based nanostructures in a living cell.
Historically, biotech products have been produced by biotechnology companies by chemically synthesizing all of the products from scratch. And much of the process entails using different toolboxes to make varied DNA nanostructures and get them to attach and organize with other molecules viz. nanoparticles and other biomolecules.
However, now it is has been found that artificial nanostructures can be replicated using the mechanisms already present in live cells. The best part is that, you don't have to manufacture cells, and also that nature itself has endowed them with the ability to making copies of double stranded DNA. The only thing scientists have to do is to get them to make complex DNA nanostructures like a copier machine does.
When going about brainstorming for the solution, scientists thought of using the cellular system as simple DNA can be easily replicated in a cell. But the problem was that they didn't know whether the cells' replicating mechanism would tolerate single stranded DNA nanostructures that house complex secondary structures or not? In the end it did.
Just the beginning though, this research appears to be quite exciting as in the future it may be used in synthetic biology applications. Perhaps as the technique is perfected, and when biotechnology companies and the biotech pharmaceutical industry implements the research full-on, there won't be any dearth of biotechnology products for scientists and the medical industry.
Thursday, 11 December 2008
Although scientists as far back in history as Aristotle recognized that the features of one generation are passed on to the next (...like begets like...) it was not until the 1860's that the fundamental principles of genetic inheritance were described by Gregor Mendel. Mendel's work with common garden peas, pisum sativum, led him to hypothesize that phenotypic traits (physical characteristics) are the result of the interaction of discrete particles, which we now call genes, and that both parents provide particles which make up the characteristics of the offspring.
His theories were, however, widely disregarded by scientists of the time. In the last quarter of the 19th century, however, microscopists and cytologists, interested in the process of cell division, developed both the equipment and the methods needed to visualize chromosomes and their division in the processes of mitosis (A. Schneider, 1873) and of meiosis (E. Beneden, 1883).
As the 20th century began many scientists noticed similarities in the theoretical behavior of Mendel's particles, and the visible behavior of the newly discovered chromosomes. It wasn't long before most scientists were convinced that the hereditary material responsible for giving living things their characteristic traits, and chromosomes must be one in the same. Yet, questions still remained. Chemical analysis of chromosomes showed them to be composed of both protein and DNA. Which substance carried the hereditary information? For many years most scientists favored the hypothesis that protein was the responsible molecule because of its comparative complexity when compared with DNA. After all, DNA is composed of a mere 4 subunits while protein is composed of 20, and DNA molecules are linear while proteins range from linear to multiply branched to globular. It appeared clear that the relatively simple structure of a DNA molecule could not carry all of the genetic information needed to account for the richly varied life in the world around us!
It was not until the late 1940's and early 1950's that most biologists accepted the evidence showing that DNA must be the chromosomal component that carries hereditary information. One of the most convincing experiments was that of Alfred Hershey and Martha Chase who, in 1952, used radioactive labeling to reach this conclusion(See Graphics). This team of biologists grew a particular type of phage, known as T2, in the presence of two different radioactive labels so that the phage DNA incorporated radioactive phosphorus (32P), while the protein incorporated radioactive sulfur (35S). They then allowed the labeled phage particles to infect non-radioactive bacteria and asked a very simple question: which label would they find associated with the infected cell? Their analysis showed that most of the 32P-label was found inside of the cell, while most of the 35S was found outside. This suggested to them that the proteins of the T2 phage remained outside of the newly infected bacterium while the phage-derived DNA was injected into the cell. They then showed that the phage derived DNA caused the infected cells to produce new phage particles. This elegant work showed, conclusively, that DNA is the molecule which holds genetic information. Meanwhile, much of the scientific world was asking questions about the physical structure of the DNA molecule, and the relationship of that structure to its complex functioning.
Wednesday, 10 December 2008
According to rough estimates from EPRI, corrosion costs the U.S. electric power industry between $5 billion and $10 billion each year. In steam generating plants, for example, EPRI estimates that half of all forced outages are caused by corrosion. Moreover, corrosion can increase the cost of electricity by more than 10 percent.
One way to solve the problem is simply to change your bacteria. Under normal circumstances, the metal surfaces at a power plant become colonized by microbes when the metal is exposed to process waters. Over time, these colonies merge to form a biofilm (well, slime), which is usually damaging: Sulfate-reducing bacteria can cause pitting in most alloys, even corrosion-resistant metals such as stainless steel and aluminum. But biofilms can be engineered to have a protective effect. Certain aerobic (oxygen-loving) bacteria can consume oxygen that would otherwise oxidize the metal, providing as much as a 35-fold decrease in the corrosion rate of mild steel and significant decreases in aluminum and copper corrosion rates.
On top of that, the bacteria can be genetically engineered to release antimicrobial substances to deter the colonization of sulfate-reducing bacteria.
"Wherever there is water, there are bacteria in the form of a biofilm, which is difficult to eliminate," said researcher Thomas Wood of the University of California at Irvine, an EPRI partner in the bacteria research. "Biofilms are not just slime-they have a distinct architecture, and the colonies signal one another. Why not have these biofilms work for us and be protective?"
A single type of engineered bacterium will not fit the bill, according to Wood. The most likely scenario is that researchers will take a sample of bacteria at a specific site, give them the genes to manufacture antimicrobials, and then reintroduce them.
The first testing site will be a cooled-water system on the Irvine campus, but several power plants are planning to participate in the study.
Monday, 8 December 2008
Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is a nucleic acid that contains the genetic instructions used in the development and functioning of all known living organisms and some viruses. The main role of DNA molecules is the long-term storage of information. DNA is often compared to a set of blueprints or a recipe, or a code, since it contains the instructions needed to construct other components of cells, such as proteins and RNA molecules. The DNA segments that carry this genetic information are called genes, but other DNA sequences have structural purposes, or are involved in regulating the use of this genetic information.
Chemically, DNA consists of two long polymers of simple units called nucleotides, with backbones made of sugars and phosphate groups joined by ester bonds. These two strands run in opposite directions to each other and are therefore anti-parallel. Attached to each sugar is one of four types of molecules called bases. It is the sequence of these four bases along the backbone that encodes information. This information is read using the genetic code, which specifies the sequence of the amino acids within proteins. The code is read by copying stretches of DNA into the related nucleic acid RNA, in a process called transcription.
Within cells, DNA is organized into structures called chromosomes. These chromosomes are duplicated before cells divide, in a process called DNA replication. Eukaryotic organisms (animals, plants, fungi, and protists) store their DNA inside the cell nucleus, while in prokaryotes (bacteria and archae) it is found in the cell's cytoplasm. Within the chromosomes, chromatin proteins such as histones compact and organize DNA. These compact structures guide the interactions between DNA and other proteins, helping control which parts of the DNA are transcribed.
DNA is a long polymer made from repeating units called nucleotides. The DNA chain is 22 to 26 Ångströms wide (2.2 to 2.6 nanometres), and one nucleotide unit is 3.3 Å (0.33 nm) long.Although each individual repeating unit is very small, DNA polymers can be enormous molecules containing millions of nucleotides. For instance, the largest human chromosome, chromosome number 1, is approximately 220 million base pairs long.
In living organisms, DNA does not usually exist as a single molecule, but instead as a tightly-associated pair of molecule. These two long strands entwine like vines, in the shape of a double helix. The nucleotide repeats contain both the segment of the backbone of the molecule, which holds the chain together, and a base, which interacts with the other DNA strand in the helix. In general, a base linked to a sugar is called a nucleoside and a base linked to a sugar and one or more phosphate groups is called a nucleotide. If multiple nucleotides are linked together, as in DNA, this polymer is called a polynucleotide.
The backbone of the DNA strand is made from alternating phosphate and sugar residues.The sugar in DNA is 2-deoxyribose, which is a pentose (five-carbon) sugar. The sugars are joined together by phosphate groups that form phosphodiester bonds between the third and fifth carbon atoms of adjacent sugar rings. These asymmetric bonds mean a strand of DNA has a direction. In a double helix the direction of the nucleotides in one strand is opposite to their direction in the other strand. This arrangement of DNA strands is called antiparallel. The asymmetric ends of DNA strands are referred to as the 5' (five prime) and 3' (three prime) ends, with the 5' end being that with a terminal phosphate group and the 3' end that with a terminal hydroxyl group. One of the major differences between DNA and RNA is the sugar, with 2-deoxyribose being replaced by the alternative pentose sugar ribose in RNA.
Friday, 21 November 2008
To get bioengineered medicines, grains, vegetables, and animals on the market for human consumption, U.S. biotech companies must pass their products through the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Recently, the FDA has been in the news because its Prescription Drug User Fee Act of 1992, which forces drug companies to pay in to expedite drug approval, came up for renewal. That same year, the FDA rejected mandatory labeling of genetically modified organism (GMO) products. How might the FDA affect the future of bioengineered food?
The User Fee Act has, in Harvard professor Jerry Avorn's opinion, "pretty much transformed the FDA. The sense now is we report to the industry; they pay our salaries; we had better be quick on these approvals."
Some biotech products will zoom through the FDA because they are advances in medical treatment, and, of course, we all want the sick to get the best new therapies. The problem is that the FDA is underfunded, so most resources are dedicated to medical advances. Thus, according to David Kessler of the FDA, "other parts of the agency—post-market surveillance, food safety, the field resources—those areas of the agency suffer."
In addition, the FDA is essentially rubber-stamping the tests performed by each company that has developed a product, and since they're bogged down in analysis of drug tests, they hardly ever follow up on the market to see if bioengineered products are having a negative impact on consumers. One publicized mishap in 2000 resulted in traces of StarLink Bt10 corn, meant only for industrial purposes, cross-pollinating with conventional corn and winding up in taco shells. We know the FDA isn't catching problems like this one--and that, as yet, consuming products deemed marginally unsafe won't cause an epidemic—but eventually the biotech industry may get consumer backlash for causing a serious problem that could have been avoided if the budget were expanded.
I should probably note that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) oversaw the restrictions on this brand of corn, and the Department of Health and Human Services, of which the FDA is a part, only posts notices for products consumed by humans—so there's a further complication for biologically engineered products. They may be subject to these two departments as well as the Environmental Protection Agency, and this structural weakness probably doesn't make for excellent communication.
One could argue that GMO labeling is only a minor issue in the U.S. and that the average citizen isn't too concerned about the provenance of his or her food. There are at least two problems with this attitude. The first is that U.S. exports will be increasingly suspect to foreign markets, particularly the EU, which require labeling and stringent testing. The second is that any misstep, such as a genetically engineered product that results in widespread sickness, will create distrust of the FDA and bioengineering in general.
Europe's vigorous standards regarding approval, track-back, and isolation for GMO crops may be driving North America out of the market. Agricultural specialists like Dan McGuire are questioning if GMO crops are really to their economic advantage.
"I can't recall any foreign or domestic corn customer ever requesting that U.S. farmers start planting and supplying genetically engineered corn. So the introduction of GMOs was not a response to importers or consumers requesting such a change. Indeed, it's a direct result of biotech companies introducing those products into the domestic and foreign market without market research on consumer acceptance. Indeed, the first I heard about GMOs was from European importers," said McGuire.
Leaders in the biotechnology industry need to be activists for their products—labeling their products will bring them one step closer to informing the public and leading us into discussions of benefits like cheaper crop production and less pesticide runoff.
Friday, 7 November 2008
Gene therapy may be classified into two types
1) Germ line gene therapy
2) Somatic cell gene therapy
a) Incase of germ line gene therapy germ cells that is sperms or eggs are modified by the introduction of functional genes, which are ordinarily integrated into their genomes.
Therefore the change due to therapy is heritable and passed onto the later generations. This approach, heretically, is highly effective in counteracting the genetic disorders. However this option is not consider, at least for the present for application in human beings for a variety of technical and ethical reasons.
b) In the case of somatic cell gene therapy the gene is introduced only in somatic cells, especially of those tissues in which expression of the concerned gene is critical for health. Expression of the introduced gene relieves symptoms of the disorder, but this effect is not heritable, as it does not involve the germ line. It is the only feasible option, and clinical trials have already started mostly for the treatment of cancer and blood disorders.
GENERAL GENE THERAPY STRATEGIES
1) Gene augmentation therapy (GAT): -
It is done by simple addition of functional alleles has been used to treat several inherited disorders caused by genetic deficiency of a gene product. It is also involved in transfer to cells of genes encoding toxic compounds (suicide genes) or prodrugs (reagents which confer sensitivity to subsequent treatment with a drug). It has been particularly applied to autosomal recessive disorders where even modest expression levels of an introduced gene may make a substantial difference.
2) Targeted killing of specific cells: -
Artificial cell killing and immune system assisted cell killing have been popular in the treatment of cancers. It can be done by two ways.
a) Direct cell killing: - it is possible if the inserted genes are expressed to produce a lethal toxin (suicide genes), or a gene encoding a prodrug is inserted, conferring susceptibility to killing by a subsequently administered drug. Alternatively selectively lytic viruses can be used.
b) Indirect cell killing: - It uses immunostimulatory genes to provoke or enhance an immune response against the target cell.
3) Targeted mutation correction: -
The repair of a genetic defect to restore a functional allele, is the exception, technical difficulties have meant that it is not sufficiently reliable to warrant clinical trails.
4) Targeted inhibition of gene expression: -
It is suitable for treating infectious diseases and some cancers. If disease cells display a novel gene product or inappropriate expression of a gene a variety of different systems can be used specifically to block the expression of a single gene at the DNA, RNA or Protein levels.
1) Tom strachan and Andrew P. Read, Human Molecular Genetics, Second edition.
2) T.A. Brown, Gene Cloning an introduction, Third Edition.
3) S.N. Jogdand, Gene Biotechnology.
4) B.D Singh, Biotechnology.
Human beings suffer from more than 5000 different diseases caused by single gene mutations, e.g., cystic fibrosis acatalasis, hunting tons chorea, tay sachs disease, lisch nyhan syndrome, sickle cell anemia, mitral stenosis, hunter's syndrome, haemophilia, several forms of muscular dystrophy etc. In addition, many common disorders like cancer, hypertension, atherosclerosis and mental illness seem to have genetic components.
The term gene therapy can be defined as introduction of a normal functional gene into cells, which contain the defective allele of concerned gene with the objective of correcting a genetic disorder or an acquired disorder.
The first approach in gene therapy is: -
a) Identification of the gene that plays the key role in the development of a genetic disorder.
b) Determination of the role of its product in health and disease.
c) Isolation and cloning of the gene.
d) Development of an approach for gene therapy.
The genetic material may be transferred directly into cells within a patient, which is referred as in vivo gene therapy or else cells may be removed from the patient and the genetic material inserted into them, which is referred as invitro gene therapy. Apart from the two methods mentioned above there is one more method that is ex-vivo gene therapy in which genetic material is inserted into the cells just prior to transplanting the modified cells back into the patient.
Major disease classes under gene therapy include: -
a) Infectious diseases: - infection by a virus or bacterial pathogen
b) Cancers: - uncontrolled and enormous cell division and cell proliferation as a result of activation of an oncogene or inactivation of a tumors suppressor gene or an apoptosis gene.
c) Inherited disorders: - genetic deficiency of an individual gene product or genetically determined in appropriate expression of a gene.
d) Immune system disorders: - includes allergies, inflammation and also autoimmune diseases in which immune system cells appropriately destroy body cells.
Saturday, 1 November 2008
Although great strides have been made in gene therapy in a relatively short time, its potential usefulness has been limited by lack of scientific data concerning the multitude of functions that genes control in the human body. For instance, it is now known that the vast majority of genetic material does not store information for the creation of proteins, but rather is involved in the control and regulation of gene expression, and is, thus, much more difficult to interpret. Even so, each individual cell in the body carries thousands of genes coding for proteins, with some estimates as high as 150,000 genes. For gene therapy to advance to its full potential, scientists must discover the biological role of each of these individual genes and where the base pairs that make them up are located on DNA.
To address this issue, the National Institutes of Health initiated the Human Genome Project in 1990. Led by James D. Watson (one of the co-discoverers of the chemical makeup of DNA) the project's 15-year goal is to map the entire human genome (a combination of the words gene and chromosomes). A genome map would clearly identify the location of all genes as well as the more than three billion base pairs that make them up. With a precise knowledge of gene locations and functions, scientists may one day be able to conquer or control diseases that have plagued humanity for centuries.
Scientists participating in the Human Genome Project identified an average of one new gene a day, but many expected this rate of discovery to increase. By the year 2005, their goal was to determine the exact location of all the genes on human DNA and the exact sequence of the base pairs that make them up. Some of the genes identified through this project include a gene that predisposes people to obesity, one associated with programmed cell death (apoptosis), a gene that guides HIV viral reproduction, and the genes of inherited disorders like Huntington's disease, Lou Gehrig's disease, and some colon and breast cancers. In April 2003, the finished sequence was announced, with 99% of the human genome's gene-containing regions mapped to an accuracy of 99.9%.
Thursday, 30 October 2008
Gene therapy is a rapidly growing field of medicine in which genes are introduced into the body to treat diseases. Genes control heredity and provide the basic biological code for determining a cell's specific functions. Gene therapy seeks to provide genes that correct or supplant the disease-controlling functions of cells that are not, in essence, doing their job. Somatic gene therapy introduces therapeutic genes at the tissue or cellular level to treat a specific individual. Germ-line gene therapy inserts genes into reproductive cells or possibly into embryos to correct genetic defects that could be passed on to future generations. Initially conceived as an approach for treating inherited diseases, like cystic fibrosis and Huntington's disease, the scope of potential gene therapies has grown to include treatments for cancers, arthritis, and infectious diseases. Although gene therapy testing in humans has advanced rapidly, many questions surround its use. For example, some scientists are concerned that the therapeutic genes themselves may cause disease. Others fear that germ-line gene therapy may be used to control human development in ways not connected with disease, like intelligence or appearance.
The biological basis of gene therapy
A DNA molecule looks like two ladders with one of the sides taken off both and then twisted around each other. The rungs of these ladders meet (resulting in a spiral staircase-like structure) and are called base pairs. Base pairs are made up of nitrogen molecules and arranged in specific sequences. Millions of these base pairs, or sequences, can make up a single gene, specifically defined as a segment of the chromosome and DNA that contains certain hereditary information. The gene, or combination of genes formed by these base pairs ultimately direct an organism's growth and characteristics through the production of certain chemicals, primarily proteins, which carry out most of the body's chemical functions and biological reactions.
Scientists have long known that alterations in genes present within cells can cause inherited diseases like cystic fibrosis, sickle-cell anemia, and hemophilia. Similarly, errors in the total number of chromosomes can cause conditions such as Down syndrome or Turner's syndrome. As the study of genetics advanced, however, scientists learned that an altered genetic sequence also can make people more susceptible to diseases, like atherosclerosis, cancer, and even schizophrenia. These diseases have a genetic component, but also are influenced by environmental factors (like diet and lifestyle). The objective of gene therapy is to treat diseases by introducing functional genes into the body to alter the cells involved in the disease process by either replacing missing genes or providing copies of functioning genes to replace nonfunctioning ones. The inserted genes can be naturally-occurring genes that produce the desired effect or may be genetically engineered (or altered) genes.
Scientists have known how to manipulate a gene's structure in the laboratory since the early 1970s through a process called gene splicing. The process involves removing a fragment of DNA containing the specific genetic sequence desired, then inserting it into the DNA of another gene. The resultant product is called recombinant DNA and the process is genetic engineering.
There are basically two types of gene therapy. Germ-line gene therapy introduces genes into reproductive cells (sperm and eggs) or someday possibly into embryos in hopes of correcting genetic abnormalities that could be passed on to future generations. Most of the current work in applying gene therapy, however, has been in the realm of somatic gene therapy. In this type of gene therapy, therapeutic genes are inserted into tissue or cells to produce a naturally occurring protein or substance that is lacking or not functioning correctly in an individual patient.
Monday, 27 October 2008
The recent report by E.ON Power Technology in the United Kingdom shows us details of testing done on Green plus, liquid fuel catalyst that reduces harmful emissions, in a test boiler of a coal-fired power plant. Green Plus is a sister company to the Biofriendly Corporation in the US. The purpose of the test was to determine how the fuel catalyst's ability to improve combustion would affect the efficiency of the power plant. The report shows promising results when Green Plus is added to a coal-fired generator.
The report states, "The Green Plus Catalyst showed benefits in LOI (Loss on Ignition) carbon burnout, with no increase in NOx (Nitrogen Oxides) and in some cases, a small NOx reduction." LOI defines the amount of unburned carbon in fly ash. A lower LOI represents less carbon residue in the ash, which means the boiler is operating more efficiently, with lower emissions. During the test, Green Plus lowered LOI by at least 20%.
Alan Thompson, a member of the Test & Measurement Group from Power Technology stated, "This was a very interesting test where the Green Plus catalyst for pulverized coal firing showed benefits in LOI reduction with no increase in NOx." The fact that the research boiler at Power Technology is optimized for low LOI and low NOx makes the test result even more remarkable.
"Reducing the percentage of unburned carbon (LOI) without increasing airflow and keeping NOx emissions under control or even lower than before could be extremely useful to the power industry," said Dr. Colin K. Hill, Chief Consulting Scientist for Biofriendly Corporation. "It may give the industry new flexibility in fueling and power output options. We plan to confirm these research boiler test results on a full scale commercial power plant shortly," he added.
Decreasing unburned carbon may also increase the efficiency of the boiler without increasing the production of NOx in coal-fired power plants. This opens up an entire new market to Biofriendly Corporation and Green Plus Ltd, and it shows that Green Plus has additional potential applications when it comes to improving combustion. Furthermore, this test result is another in a long line of positive independent and certified tests of Green Plus. Each of these third party results supports the claim that Green Plus is the world's most effective and economical solution for significantly reducing emissions, improving fuel economy and enhancing engine performance.
Sunday, 26 October 2008
Biofriendly Corporation has mandated that the Mexican City of Guzman (population 120,000) use fuel (gasoline and diesel) treated with Green plus liquid fuel combustion catalyst. All city vehicles, private buses and taxis are to use Green Plus, which is designed to reduce harmful emissions and improve performance. Guzman is the first city in Mexico to implement the "Emission Zero" program recently passed by the State of Jalisco.
The President (Mayor) of the City of Guzman spoke of the new environmentally friendly advancement, with the full support of the City Council (100% vote) and from other Mexican states and members of the Jalisco Congress and American Consul. Representatives of major corporations including Coca-Cola, Bimbo, Comision Federal de Electricidad y Telefonos de Mexico as well as the Regional Director for Pemex, and the national oil company also took part in the release of their new advancement towards a cleaner and safer environment.
Congressman (Diputado) Luis Alejandro Rodriguez, President of the State of Jalisco Congressional Environmental Commission said, "The City of Guzman inaugurates the start of our state program "EMISION ZERO" to clean up the air in Jalisco. We intend to be proactive about cleaning up our environment and we expect this to become a model for all of Mexico."
The Mayor of Guzman, Umberto Alvarez Gonzales said, "We have to stop robbing the clean air from our children and citizens, we are all breathing the same dirty air. "EMISION ZERO" gives us a chance to reverse this trend."
Prior to the implementation of this program a certified test was completed. Angel Ricardo Martinez, Director of Vehicle Environment Enforcement (Semades) for the state of Jalisco monitored and certified the pilot program that showed diesel opacity reductions of over 56%.
Correct Action International; the distributor of Green Plus in Latin America has been invited to meet with another state congress and other cities that want to adopt the "EMISION ZERO" program.
The state of Jalisco includes famous cities like Guadalajara, Puerto Vallarta, Tequila, and now the City of Guzman, the first city to take action in support of "EMISION ZERO' using Biofriendly's Green Plus to clean up the air.
Saturday, 25 October 2008
Biotechnology sector of India is not a new one. It has been nourished since its inception by national government. Nevertheless, this industry is still in the infant stage. Currently, India is investing in academics and existing industry's infrastructure considerably to expedite the overall growth of sector.
Biopharma sector enjoys the major share of the total biotech market. It comprises of therapeutics, vaccines, animal health care products and diagnostics. Notably, whenever any Indian biopharma company releases its products in market, MNCs reduce prices for these products to vie. The bioindustrial segment consists of organic amino acids, enzymes, yeast and yeast-based products and account for over 10% of the total market share. These products, actually, were first off the mark from the biotech industry of India.
In India most of the bio drugs and diagnostic products are for the government and private sector hospitals and patients. The second group of buyers of biotechnology products and biomolecules are the research institutes and pharmaceutical companies. The emerging trend of corporate players establishing diagnostic centers in small towns and rural areas is providing opportunities for the import of automated systems and imported reagents.
Patients and private and government hospitals are the main consumers of diagnostic products and bio drugs in India. Pharmaceutical companies and research institutes are the second set of consumers of biomolecules and biotechnology products. The evolving trend of establishing diagnostic centers in rural areas and small towns by corporate houses is giving the opportunities for the import of reagents and automated systems.
Indian biotech market is very promising. Though there is a great scope for investments and import in healthcare biotechnology sector of India still the industry is facing many challenges; first being inadequate IP (intellectual property) protection. India pledged to product patent by improving its patent law in 2005. Therefore, firstly, some entrepreneurs lead the industry and dispersed research supported by government. IP should be protected through proper implication is necessary for the development of product. Second challenge is that majority of the healthcare expense is "out of pocket expenditure". As a result, the new innovative drugs, which are costly and can't be afforded by Indian patients, are not sold in India. It has kept big honchos of global biotechnology sector away from Indian market. But, the increasing coverage in health insurance is changing the market.
Third challenge the industry facing is the shortage of biotechnology experts. Till recently, government institutes, in cooperation with private ones, conducted most of the biotech research. Now many education institutes, like schools and colleges, have introduced the courses in biotech.
Closely following information technology, the next success in India is biotechnology. As per Mckinsey by 2020, only two main biotechnology companies will comprise a market capitalization, which will be the same as the collective market capitalization of all of the IT companies at present.
This rapid growth in biotechnology is working as an incentive to bio-industry executives, research scientists, and venture capitalists to come together to put forth ideas that would triple the market for bio-products. The latest inclination is towards the application of IT to biotechnology, transgenic crops, plant genomes, crop protection, food security, and induced resistance to plant diseases. With this in the background a number of biotechnology researchers want to become entrepreneurs.
The world currently spends about US $7 billion on outsourced biotech R&D. Further this is expected to grow by 30% every year for the next 5 years. Also there is a growing increase in the global trend to outsource R&D to areas of lower-cost capabilities in biotechnology. CROs can be compared with software development in the IT sector in terms of the formers activity and they have a potential to function as export oriented units.
Bio-informatics can prosper relatively easily through the development of software to handle biological data. Biotechnology is the most updated division of science, which is believed to have immense potential in agriculture and environment.
In their market research report, “Indian Biotechnology Market Outlook (2006)” RNCOS’ analysts reveal that the present biotech workforce employed in India is 10,000 and this is expected to double in 2006. Of this total workforce 50% will be in research, 35%in the technical and services sector, and 15% in management.
The report gives a clear picture of the future Indian biotech market, the initiatives and policies of central and state governments covering all segments of the market. Having made an intensive SWOT analysis the report analyzes the sector in terms of size, demand, and foreign and domestic markets for 2005 while making forecasts till 2010.
Finally the report lists company profiles of 20 major companies in the biotech industry including Shantha Biotechnics, Biocon, Bharat Biotech, Wockhardt, Serum Institute of India, Zydus Cadila, and Aventis Pharma.
Friday, 24 October 2008
f you want to choose the CRM system that suits your business there are many CRM solution companies that can try to woo you. You have many alternatives. Choosing one of them could be a daunting task because you want to be sure that by availing these services you are not going to lose any customer or client. Sometimes the buyer of the CRM Systems repents for not taking the help of call centre outsourcing.
1. Clarify whether CRM system is on site or web based.
2. The new form of effective CRM solution is the web based CRM. This web based CRM is also called hosted CRM. This is taking the place of onsite CRM systems. The advantages of the web based CRM system are adaptability, flexibility and continuous connectivity. These three features are very important for the success of the CRM system
3. On the contrary the onsite CRM system is more in details. For onsite CRM system the employees may be required to undergo additional training. The infrastructure needed for onsite CRM system and related CRM implementation is costly.
4. Ask for a no obligation trial time.
5. Get the CRM system on trial basis at least for a month and once satisfied with the performance then only pay.
6. Check the Security checks offered in the CRM system. Sometime some information needs to be classified and not meant for everyone.
7. See to it that the CRM system gets fully integrated into your organization. Special care has to be taken for integration at the level of business process and business objects.
8. Do not get attracted by the brand name ,image or name of the CRM Consultancy. At the end of the day the system should be beneficial for your business and not a non performing asset.
9. Most of the people buy a CRM system because their friends bought and when it does not perform then they repent about it. Do not buy any CRM system that does not serve your purpose. Do not go by what others say because it is not going to be their investment, it is going to be your hard earned money.
10. Do not get lured by the discount offered. Sometimes the discount is offered just to get rid of that product.
11. Never pay lump sum charges for the CRM system.
12. It may not be wise enough to buy a generalized box packed CRM solution.
13. Never sign the service level agreement without reading and understand the details mentioned therein especially those related to downtime clauses during maintenance.
Friday, 3 October 2008
Genetical modification of Agricultural Seeds- cotton, soya, maize, potato, rice and trees in the forest.
The all encompassing big macabre issue discussed world wide today is the invasion of the good science, ‘biotechnology’ to virtually every nook and corner of the biosphere and practically turned to the bad science, ‘thanotechnology’ for every living element of concern and speeding up the rate to total annihilation of the biosphere.It all began with a little known episode in 1980, that is the US Supreme Court decision in the case, Diamond vrs. Chakrabarty, where the highest US court decided that biological life was legally patentable.
Anand Mohan Chakrabraty a microbiologist and employee of General Electric Company (GE) developed a type of bacteria that could ingest oil from oil spills. GE rushed for a patent in 1971 which was turned down as life forms were not patentable. GE sued and won. In 1985 the US Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) ruled that the Chakrabraty ruling could be further extended to all plants, seeds and plant tissues or to the entire plant kingdom.
US company W.R. Grace was granted 50 US patents on the Indian Neem tree which even included patenting indigenous knowledge of medicinal use of the Neem products (since been leveled ‘biopiracy’). In 1988 PTO issued patent on animal to Harvard Professors, Philip Lader and Timothy A. Stewart who had created a transgenic mouse having genes of the chicken and human being. In 1991, PTO granted patent to human stem cells and later to human genes. Biocyte was awarded European patent on all umbilical cord cells from foetuses and new born babies even without the permission of the ‘donors’. European Patents Office (EPO) received applications from Baylor University for the patenting of women who had been genetically altered to produce GE proteins in their mammary glands.
Baylor University essentially sought monopoly rights over the use of human mammary glands to manufacture pharmaceuticals. Attempts also were made to patent blood cells of indigenous people of Panama, the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea. Within a decade the ‘Chakrabarty ruling’ of the US Supreme Court revolutionised the research and developments in biotechnology involving microbes to human beings which led it to be branded as bad science, “thanotechnology” in the following decade and hated world wide. biotech companies engaged in biotech pharmaceuticals quickly moved to agriculture, obtained patents on seeds, buying up small seed companies, destroying their seed stocks and replacing the same with GE seeds. In the last decade several companies have gained monopoly control over such seeds world wide as soy, corn and cotton ( used in processed foods via cotton seed oil). As a result, nearly 2/3 rd. of such processed foods showed some GM ingredient in them.
However, even without any labelings, the concerned US consumers were aware of such pervasive food products of biotech companies. Immediately the companies knew that aware citizen kept away from GM foods and they organized to convince the regulators not to require such labelings. Somewhat shockingly the bureaucratic risk evaluators in the US turned a blind eye towards the ill motives of the bio-tech companies.
The point of concern
All genetical modifications are based on recombinant DNA technology. The present society is faced with unprecedented problems not only in the history of science, but of all life on earth. The GE technology enables the profit oriented biotech companies the capacity to redesign the living organisms, the products of three billion years of evolution. In the words of Dr. George Wald, Nobel Laureate in Medicine (1967), Higgins Professor of Biology at the Harvard University, “potentially it could breed new animal and plant diseases, new sources of cancer and novel epidemics”.
In 1989, dozens of Americans died and over several thousands were afflicted and impaired owing to the ingestion of a genetically altered version of food supplement L – tryptophan. A settlement of $ 2 billion was paid by Showa Denko, Japan’s 3rd. largest chemical company (Mayeno and Gleich, 1994)
In 1996, pioneer Hi-Bred spliced Brazil nut genes into soy beans. Some individuals are so allergic to this nut that they go into apoplectic shock which can cause death. Animal tests confirmed the peril and the product was soon removed from the market before any fatalities occurred. In the words of Marion Nestle, HOD Nutrition, New York University, “the next case could be less than ideal and public less fortunate.”
In 1994 US Food and Drug Administration approved Monsanto's r-BGH, a GE growth hormone, for injecting the dairy cows to enhance their milk yield in spite of experts warning that the resultant increase of IGF-1, a potent chemical hormone, linked to 400 – 500 % higher risks of human breast, prostrate and colon cancer. According to Dr. Samuel Epstein of University of Chicago, “ it induces the malignant transformation of human breast epithelial cells.” Studies on Rats confirmed the suspicion and showed damage to internal organs with r-BGH ingestion. Even FDA’s own tests showed a spleen mass increase by 46%, a state that is a prelude to ‘leukemia’. The argument that the substance get damaged by pasteurization was nullified by 2 of Monsanto’s own scientists, Ted Elasser and Brian Mc Bride who found only 19% of the hormone get destroyed after 30 minutes of boiling (pasteurization takes only 30 seconds). Inspite of Canada, EU, Australia, New Zealand and even the UN’s Codex Alimentarius refusing to endorse the GE hormone, the same is freely marketed in the US by Monsanto. It was found out that 2 US bureaucrats namely, Margaret Miller and Micheal Taylor in the US FDA who helped Monsanto’s r-BGH pass the risk factor barrier were in fact earlier Monsanto employees.
Several other GM products approved by US FDA involve herbicides that are commonly known as ‘carcinogenic’, viz – ‘bromoxiny’l used on Bt. Cotton and Monsanto's ‘round-up’ or Glufosinate used on GM soy, corn and canola. Sharyn Martin, a researcher, has opined that a number of auto- immune diseases are enhanced by foreign DNA fragments which come with G M food that are not fully digested in the human stomach and intestine. These DNA fragments absorbed into the blood stream mix with normal DNA through recombination and are, hence, unpredictable. Such DNA fragments have been found to be in GM soy and other GM products available in the market.
The fear factor
Professor Joe Cummins, Professor Emeritus of Genetics, University of Western Ontario said, ‘ Virus resistant crops are becoming the mainstay of biotech industries. These crops carry foreign virus genes which are genetically engineered to empower the plants to resist virus attacks. Most of the fruits, vegetables and baby food marketed in the US are of this category. Lab. experiments have shown that ‘the GE viral genes in food potentially give rise to new viruses – deadlier than the viruses that the crops are being protected from’, a fact that is quite alarming.
In 1986, it was reported that GE plants having TMV genes delayed the development of the disease and this report opened the flood gates to create resistance to a range of other viruses. But the fact is that viral coat protein production in GE crop does not block the virus entering into the plant cell rather the transgene is exposed to the nucleic acids of many viruses that are brought to the plant by insect vectors. A number of study results are there to show that plant viruses can acquire a variety of viral genes from GE plants through recombination.
* Defective Red Color Mosaic Virus lacks the gene enabling it to move from cell to cell and hence is not infectious ,but recombined with a copy of that gene in GE Nicotina benthamiana plants, regenerated the infectious RCMVirus.
* GE Brassica napus and Nicotiana bigelovii containing “ gene- vi ”, a
translational activator from the Cauliflower Mosaic Virus (CaMV) which
recombined with the complementary part of a virus missing that gene, and
produced new infectious virus in all GE plants.
* N. benthamiana expressing a segment of the Cowpea Chlorotic Mottle Virus (CCMV) coat protein gene recombined more frequently with the defective virus missing that gene.
* N. benthamiana was transformed with 3 different constructs containing coat protein coding sequence of African Cassava Mosaic Virus (ACMV). The transformed plants were inoculated with a coat protein deletion mutant of ACMV that induces mild systemic symptoms in control plants. Several such inoculated plants of the transgenic lines developed severe systemic symptoms typical of ACMV confirming recombination had occurred between mutant viral DNA and the integrated construct DNA resulting in the production of recombined viral progeny with ‘ wild type ’ virulency.
The CaMV recombination, when and where ?
CaMV 35 s promoter gene, is the ubiquitous viral sequence in all the transgenic (GM) plants which are either already commercially released in the market or undergoing field trials. This gene is needed by all GM plant producers because it drives the production of gene messages from the genes inserted to provide herbicide tolerance, insect- pest resistance, antibiotic resistance and a range of other functions deemed to improve the commercial quality of the crop plant. In the absence of this ‘promoter gene’, the ‘inserted gene’ remains inactive, while in its presence the gene activity is maintained at a high level in all of the plant tissues irrespective of the changing environmental conditions which drastically affect the activity of ‘promoters’ native to the crop plant.
The 2 events which occurred in 1999 provoked Professor Cummins and other independent scientists to draw global attention to such alarming industrial scientific maladies that may have disastrous consequences. In fact Professor Cummins had in 1994 questioned the environmental safety of the release of CaMV 35 s promoter gene through the GM plants. Experimental evidences available indicated that the frequency of genetic recombination of CaMV 35 s promoter gene was much higher than those of other viruses. When recombinant CCMV was recovered from 3% of transgenic N. benthamiana containing CCMV sequences, recombinant CaMV was recovered from 36% of transgenic N. begelovii.
Event -1. Scientists of John Innes Research Institute published a paper showing that the CaMV 35 s promoter has a recombination ‘hot spot’ meaning it is prone to break and reassociate with other pieces of genetic material, may be of other viruses.
Event- 2. Dr. Arpad Pusztai, a senior scientist working in the UK govt. funded Rowett Institute in Scotland was sacked from his job because he revealed the results of feeding experiments suggesting that transgenic potatoes were unsafe. The lab. Rats fed with GM food showed increased lymphocytes in gut lining indicating damage to intestine from non specific viral infection.
Scientists Mae- Wan Ho and Angel Ryan published a paper in October 1999 issue of Journal of Microbial Ecology in Health and Disease warning that the CaMV 35 s promoter is interchangeable with promoters of other plant and animal virus and is promiscuous and functions efficiently in all plants, green algae, yeast and E. coli. Its recombination hot spot is flanked by multiple motifs and is similar to other recombination hot spots such as that of the Agrobacterium –T DNA vector, the other most commonly used gene, in making transgenic plants. They also claimed to have demonstrated in the lab. of the recombination between viral transgenes and infecting viruses.
In an article published in the online journal of European Food Research and Technology (2006) authors ( Marit R. Myhre, et. al. ) claimed to have constructed expression vectors with CaMV 35 s promoter inserted in front of 2 ‘reporter genes’ encoding firefly luciferase and green fluorescent protein (GFP), respectively and performed transient transfection experiments in the human enterocyte – like cell line, Caco - 2 and found that the CaMV 35 s promoter genes drive the expressions of both the ‘reporter genes’ to significant levels.
Thursday, 2 October 2008
OK, so I picked up a free copy of the Industrial Biotechnology journal at this weeks SIM meeting and in it they had something that caught my eye. It is a small company called E-Fuel that is coming out with a home ethanol distilling system. Yes, you read that right. It is a big box with a gas pump on it that you dump raw sugar and yeast into and out comes ethanol. Apparently it uses membrane distilling instead of traditional heat distilling so things won’t explode on you. They claim that making a gallon of ethanol costs about $1.25 and that you can even dump alcoholic drinks into it and run them straight through the membrane system to recover the ethanol in there for $0.10 a gallon.
Wednesday, 1 October 2008
In both types of therapy, scientists need something to transport either the entire gene or a recombinant DNA to the cell's nucleus, where the chromosomes and DNA reside. In essence, vectors are molecular delivery trucks. One of the first and most popular vectors developed were viruses because they invade cells as part of the natural infection process. Viruses have the potential to be excellent vectors because they have a specific relationship with the host in that they colonize certain cell types and tissues in specific organs. As a result, vectors are chosen according to their attraction to certain cells and areas of the body.
One of the first vectors used was retroviruses. Because these viruses are easily cloned (artificially reproduced) in the laboratory, scientists have studied them extensively and learned a great deal about their biological action. They also have learned how to remove the genetic information that governs viral replication, thus reducing the chances of infection.
Retroviruses work best in actively dividing cells, but cells in the body are relatively stable and do not divide often. As a result, these cells are used primarily for ex vivo (outside the body) manipulation. First, the cells are removed from the patient's body, and the virus, or vector, carrying the gene is inserted into them. Next, the cells are placed into a nutrient culture where they grow and replicate. Once enough cells are gathered, they are returned to the body, usually by injection into the blood stream. Theoretically, as long as these cells survive, they will provide the desired therapy.
Another class of viruses, called the adenoviruses, also may prove to be good gene vectors. These viruses can effectively infect nondividing cells in the body, where the desired gene product then is expressed naturally. In addition to being a more efficient approach to gene transportation, these viruses, which cause respiratory infections, are more easily purified and made stable than retroviruses, resulting in less chance of an unwanted viral infection. However, these viruses live for several days in the body, and some concern surrounds the possibility of infecting others with the viruses through sneezing or coughing. Other viral vectors include influenza viruses, Sindbis virus, and a herpes virus that infects nerve cells.
Scientists also have delved into nonviral vectors. These vectors rely on the natural biological process in which cells uptake (or gather) macromolecules. One approach is to use liposomes, globules of fat produced by the body and taken up by cells. Scientists also are investigating the introduction of raw recombinant DNA by injecting it into the bloodstream or placing it on microscopic beads of gold shot into the skin with a "gene-gun." Another possible vector under development is based on dendrimer molecules. A class of polymers (naturally occurring or artificial substances that have a high molecular weight and formed by smaller molecules of the same or similar substances), is "constructed" in the laboratory by combining these smaller molecules. They have been used in manufacturing Styrofoam, polyethylene cartons, and Plexiglass. In the laboratory, dendrimers have shown the ability to transport genetic material into human cells. They also can be designed to form an affinity for particular cell membranes by attaching to certain sugars and protein groups.
Sunday, 28 September 2008
To understand something as important and beautiful as pure water we need to understand consciousness because pure consciousness and pure water have many things in common. Though absolute, pure water does not exist outside of a laboratory except as a concept, pure consciousness is not a concept, but it is rarely experienced or perceived in its pure form.
"Ask yourself what the world's most precious commodity is, and you might say gold; you might say diamonds. You'd be wrong on both counts. The answer is water. If by "most precious" we mean what's most desired by most people, nothing comes close to water -- fresh, clean water, that is." - Michael McCarthy
Pure consciousness, what is that? It is much easier to say what it isn’t than what it is. If we sit down in meditation and relax until we do not feel our bodies, then slow our minds down till there are no more thoughts to think, and calm our hearts until there is no more emotion, no feeling, no hearing, and no images in our imagination, what do we have left? Nothing but our very own pure consciousness; pure awareness is what is left and this is the foundation of everything that we are.
Water and consciousness are both remarkable substances. Water for example, although we drink it, wash with it, fish and swim in it, and cook with it, we tend to overlook the special relationship it has with our lives. Without water, we would die within a week. Now consider pure consciousness, without it we die in a nano-second. We use it all the time for the most basic life processes, to think, imagine, feel, plan, touch, taste, see and hear with, yet we pay it no attention.
Pure consciousness is an idea that a physicist would be more comfortable with because the best comparison to it would be the black light of space. We normally look up into the nighttime sky and see the blackness of space in-between the stars thinking that space is absent of light. Such thoughts are foolish because in each square centimeter of black space is all the light of the universe. So intensely full of light is space that we cannot see it because it would burn our retina in an instant.
Most of us are not familiar with the dynamics of our own consciousness nor do we bother to train ourselves in meditation to perceive the pure light within for it is an intensely dynamic space that is difficult to pin down. In that space we call pure consciousness, even one thought crashes us out of it, like being kicked out of heaven. But back we can go when we re-silence the mind, which we can do if we train ourselves to do it.
As it is with consciousness it is with water. Anything added makes it impure. One very small drop of mercury will destroy many gallons of pure water, polluting it terribly. The pure is highly vulnerable to the impure. This is the most basic similarity between water and consciousness as is the fact that both immediately take the shape of anything. The thought arises in consciousness and consciousness takes the exact shape of the thought. Water will fit into any vessel and it will accommodate any chemical, any poison, any heavy metal in its breast. Dirty water and dirty consciousness seem like cousins and they are. Those who would dirty our waters by adding poisons to the water like fluoride are dirty and indecent in their consciousness as well. And those who would sell us filtering equipment that does not remove this cancer-causing agent are playing a game that puts their commercial interests above their responsibility to protect our children and ourselves from harm.
We are water and we are consciousness and the purer we can keep both the better off we are. To ensure our families the best health possible we have to be dedicated. We have to invest our consciousness in subjects like water and learn to be wise about it. So many of us take our water for granted just as we take our consciousness for granted.
"Each year in the U.S., lead in drinking water contributes to 480,000 cases of learning disorders in children and 560,000 cases of hypertension in adult males." - U.S. EPA
The cost of distancing ourselves from the purity of consciousness and the purity of water are astronomical. Only when we care about purity will we really contemplate on our absolute need for the purest water possible. When we do sit down and concentrate our consciousness on pure water we come to see it as a powerful medicine for prevention and treatment of disease.
"In 1994 and 1995, 45 million Americans drank water from water systems that fell short of SDWA standards." - Environmental Protection Agency
Pure water is a most basic medicine though it can contain health and life giving substances like magnesium and calcium and still be considered pure, at least by the meaning we are putting out here. It is the same with pure consciousness as well. A person can be in touch with their pure consciousness and this does not mean that the person will never have a thought running through their brain.
The funny thing about pure water is that it can be full of impurities and still look pure. That’s why we can so easily deceive ourselves and drink life destroying water from our taps, wells, and yes even bottled water. And we find the same in human consciousness. A person can be all dressed up in lily white garments and say all the right words and behave most of the time correctly yet still hurt people.
The pure water that we will be studying, achievable through various treatment/filtering approaches, is dynamic and is dependent on water inputted into our filtering systems and what we do to that water. As with consciousness, it is with water. We need to understand the impurities to reach understanding of the pure. When it comes to our approach to the best water possible we have to pay attention even to what we store the water in. Plastic, as we will see, is just the next disaster waiting to happen to our water, our lives and to the ecology of the entire planet. The chances of water remaining pure stored in some kinds of plastic are close to zero.
"35% of the reported gastrointestinal illnesses among tap water drinkers were water related and preventable." - Center For Disease Control
Some scientists believe that for every outbreak of poisoning from water reported in the United States, another ten may be occurring. One such study found that as many as one in three gastrointestinal illnesses -- often chalked up to "stomach flu" -- are caused by drinking water contaminated with microorganisms. It was only ten years ago that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the EPA advised that people with weakened immune systems should consult with their doctors and consider boiling their drinking water to kill any cryptosporidium.
Detoxification is probably the single most important component to long-term health and this has become increasingly true each year, as environmental chemicals have built up all around us. Successful detoxification and chelation are totally dependent on an adequate intake of good water. Water is our body‘s only means of flushing out toxins. The more water we drink, and the purer and more alkaline that water is, the more we allow our body to purify itself.
Saturday, 27 September 2008
If a child eats conventionally grown produce, will it affect his or her health? Recent research revealed that pesticides do show up in the urine of children after consuming non-organic foods. Though the study did not look at whether or not some of the chemicals stay in the tissues and cause damage, other research says they do.
Researchers from the University of Washington in Seattle and Emory University in Atlanta, headed by Chensheng Lu, tested urine samples from 21 children in the Seattle area who ate conventionally grown foods and then ate similar organic varieties for five days, before returning to seven more days of conventional foods. To be extra certain, the organic foods were tested and found to be free of chemicals.
Urine samples were collected twice daily for a period of 7, 12, or 15 consecutive days during each of the four seasons. It was found that levels of organophosphates, a family of pesticides resulting from the creation of nerve gas agents in World War II, could be identified in the urine during the time conventional produce was eaten. Within eight to 36 hours after switching to organic versions, the pesticides in the urine disappeared.
Previous studies have found a correlation between pesticides and neurological problems in the brains of rats. Dr. Theodore Slotkin of North Carolina’s Duke University has written up the results of several such studies. He found that brain development and behavior were both negatively impacted after exposure to organophosphates, especially chlorpyrifos, one of the pesticides in the recent study.
Andrew Schneider, writing in the Seattle P.I. quotes Lu, who says “more research must be done into the harm these pesticides may do to children, even at the low levels found on food... In animal and few human studies, we know chlorpyrifos inhibits an enzyme that transmits a signal in the brain so the body can function properly. Unfortunately, that's all we know.
“It is appropriate to assume that if we - human beings - are exposed to (this class of) pesticides, even though it's a low-level exposure on a daily basis, there are going to be some health concerns down the road," said Lu, who is on the Environmental Protection Agency's pesticide advisory panel.
We do know that toxins affect children differently than adults, as they are still developing and are thus more fragile neurologically. Some pesticides contain potent neurotoxicants, which work by disrupting an organism’s nervous system. There are studies which have found that exposure to pesticides affects growth and neurological development. So it would seem very likely that ingestion of pesticide residue in young children especially would lead to negative effects on health and development. At the very least, there must be an effect to the liver and kidneys for the extra work they are forced to do.
Consider what a teacher’s curriculum guide from Yale University states:
“-A young child’s renal system is not fully developed. For example, a newborn’s kidneys are immature compared to an adult’s, making it more difficult for the infant to eliminate toxic waste. This can lead to a greater buildup and increases their vulnerability.
-A young child’s brain, nervous system, immune system, and other organ systems are still developing and are therefore most susceptible to abnormalities and malfunctions.
-When children are exposed to toxins, there is more time for resulting damage to occur than when adults are exposed. To elaborate, if a series of events have to occur before the toxic effects of chemicals present, then it is more likely that those events will occur someday if the children are exposed early in life as opposed to exposure much later.
-Due to the rapid cell growth in children, they appear to be more susceptible to some carcinogens than adults are.”
Because of such concerns, the Food Quality Protection Act required that by 2006, the EPA was to complete a comprehensive reassessment of the 9,721 pesticides permitted for use. They were to determine safe levels of pesticide residues for all food products.
Even though this law’s passage resulted in a lowering of pesticide amounts applied to foods intended for children, many critics still consider the levels too high for safety. The other concern is that there are no restrictions on imported foods.
This effect was born out by the study, as higher levels of pesticides were found in the children’s urine in the fall and winter, when consumers rely more on imported fruits and vegetables.
Other critics point out that because of this and the EPA’s too lenient restrictions, more needs to be done. They state that it only makes sense to strengthen the limits on such exposure to pesticides at a time when children are evidencing more behavior, learning and neurological problems.
According to Schneider, Lu does not believe children should only eat organic. For Lu’s family, which includes two sons, about 60 percent of the diet is organic. “‘Consumers,’ he says, ‘should be encouraged to buy produce direct from the farmers they know. These need not be just organic farmers, but conventional growers who minimize their use of pesticides.’”
To help consumers make choices as to which foods to buy as organic, the Environmental Workers Group produced a ranking. In this list, the higher the item is ranked, the lower the amount of pesticides to be found in that item. So if a family can only buy some organic produce, the priority would be peaches, apples, sweet bell peppers, celery, nectarines and strawberries, etc.
The Full List: 43 Fruits & Veggies
RANK FRUIT OR VEGGIE SCORE
1(worst) Peaches 100 (highest pesticide load)
2 Apples 96
3 Sweet Bell Peppers 86
4 Celery 85
5 Nectarines 84
6 Strawberries 83
7 Cherries 75
8 Lettuce 69
9 Grapes - Imported 68
10 Pears 65
11 Spinach 60
12 Potatoes 58
13 Carrots 57
14 Green Beans 55
15 Hot Peppers 53
16 Cucumbers 52
17 Raspberries 47
18 Plums 46
19 Oranges 46
20 Grapes - Domestic 46
21 Cauliflower 39
22 Tangerine 38
23 Mushrooms 37
24 Cantaloupe 34
25 Lemon 31
26 Honeydew Melon 31
27 Grapefruit 31
28 Winter Squash 31
29 Tomatoes 30
30 Sweet Potatoes 30
31 Watermelon 25
32 Blueberries 24
33 Papaya 21
34 Eggplant 19
35 Broccoli 18
36 Cabbage 17
37 Bananas 16
38 Kiwi 14
39 Asparagus 11
40 Sweet Peas-Frozen 11
41 Mango 9
42 Pineapples 7
43 Sweet Corn-Frozen 2
44 Avocado 1
45 (best) Onions 1 (lowest pesticide load)
Note: A total of 44 different fruits and vegetables were ranked, but grapes are listed twice because they looked at both domestic and imported samples. - Pesticides in Produce by Environmental Working Group
As is often the case, moderation and balance are the best policies. Whether your family can afford to go 60-40, 70-30, or 50-50, the above chart can help determine how you spend your precious organic dollars. Whatever the case, the move toward organic can be shown to result in lower levels of pesticides entering our bodies and those of our children.