Monday, 29 December 2008

Biotechnology in Animals

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.

Saturday, 27 December 2008

Identifying novel genes involved in both deer physiological and human pathological Osteoporosis

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

What Exactly Are Greenhouse Gases, and How Does Biofriendly Help?

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

How a New Database for Women Scientists Can Promote Agricultural Biotechnology

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

Making RNA More Durable at Room Temperature

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.

Gene Wize Genetically Tailored Nutrition

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

Marketing and Management in BioTechnology

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.

Work Conditions

* 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.

Entry Requirements

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;

Typical Employers

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

Biotechnology Careers Overview

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

A New Way To Vanquish Biotechnology Products Deficit

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

Structure of DNA model

Although scientists as far back in history as Aristotle recognized that the features of one generation are passed on to the next ( 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

Power of Biogenetics

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

What is DNA?

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.