Timeline of key events in biotechnology

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A medical researcher and virologist, Salk pioneered the first safe and effective polio vaccine. Introduced in 1955, Salk's vaccine helped curb one of the most frightening public health diseases in the world. Over 1,800,000 school children took part in the trial to test his vaccine. His vaccine used killed virus rather than weakened forms of the strain of polio used by Sabin to develop another vaccine against the disease. Salk refused to patent his vaccine and made his technique as widely available as possible. His polio vaccine is now on the World Health Organisation's List of Essential Medicine. 1995-06-23T00:00:00+0000A team of scientists led by Craig Venter at The Institute of Genomics Research published the first complete sequence of the 1.8 Mbp genome of Haemophilus influenzae, a type of bacteria that can cause ear and respiratory infections, as well as meningitis in children. R D Fleischmann, et al, 'Whole-Genome Random Sequencing and Assembly of Haemophilus influenzae Rd', Science, 269/5223 (1995), 496–512.1995-07-28T00:00:00+0000S Sakaguchi, N Sakaguchi, M Asano, M Itoh, M Toda, 'Immunologic self-tolerance maintained by activated T cells expressing IL-2 receptor alpha-chains (CD25)', Journal Immunology, 155 (1995), 1151-64. 1995-08-01T00:00:00+0000Donna Shalala, the Health and Human Services Secretary, announced that the FDA would lift the restrictions on biotechnology companies and their products. The move by the FDA brought biotechnology drugs into mainsteam drug regulation, ending products of gene therapy being subjected to double regulation by both the NIH and FDA. By the end of 1995 the FDA had approved over thirty biotech products and almost 200 biotechnology products were in advanced clinical trials. 1995-11-10T00:00:00+00001996-01-01T00:00:00+0000The belief that adult stem cells, especially the blood stem cell, can give rise to cells such as brain, liver and cardiac gives rise to notion that adult stem cells could be used like embryonic counterparts for regenerative therapies, helping in degenerative diseases of the brain and heart. This marks a paradigm shift as it goes against dogma from decades of research and clinical success with the blood stem cell. 1996-01-01T00:00:00+0000Mostafa Ronaghi and Pal Nyren at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm develop pyrosequencing which allows for shotgun sequencing without cloning in E coli or any host cell. The marchinery and reagents involved in the method was first commercialised by Pyrosequencing AB.1996-01-01T00:00:00+0000Research conducted by KA Smale et al at Queen's University (Canada), Y. Li et al at University College London, T Imaizumi et al at Yale Univbersity School of Medicine, Guntinas-Lichius et al at the University of Cologne, H H Nash et al the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, M J Ruitenberg et al at the Netherlands Institute for Brain Research.1996-01-01T00:00:00+0000Study revealed senior MIT faculty women tended to feel more marginalised than junior faculty and that women with children felt family demands were potential obstacle to career advancement. Evidence showed that percentage of women faculty in School of Science had not increased for at least a decade. 1996-01-01T00:00:00+00001996-01-01T00:00:00+0000Dolly the sheep was born as a result of the cloning of an adult cell. This was achieved by transferring the nucleus of an adult sheep's cell to the nucleus of an unfertilised egg cell. It took 277 attempts to achieve success. Dolly was the first mammal to be cloned.1996-01-07T00:00:00+0000The new restriction enzymes are called Zinc finger nucleases (originally called chimeric restriction enzymes). They are produced as part of an effort to generate restriction-modification enzymes with longer recognition sites without having to screen bacteria and microorganisms. Kim, Y G, Cha, J, Chandrasegaran, S, 'Hybrid restriction enzymes: Zinc finger fusions to Fok I cleavage domain', PNAS USA 93 (1996): 1156–60. 1996-02-01T00:00:00+0000The work was led by Padmanee Sharma. The team's finding appeared in P. Sharma et al, ‘Thymus-leukaemia antigen interacts with T cells and self-peptides’, Journal Immunology, 156 (1996), 987-96.1996-02-01T00:00:00+0000It was the second single RNA structure to be unravelled. Doudna, J. A. and T. R. Cech, 'Self-assembly of a Group I Intron Active Site from its Component Tertiary Structural Domains', RNA, 1/1 (1995), 36-45.1996-03-01T00:00:00+0000DR Leach, MF Krummel, JP Allison, 'Enchancement of antitumor immunity by CTLA-4 blockade', Science, 271/5256 (1996), 1734-36. The discovery laid the foundation for the development immune checkpoint inhibitor drugs to unleash the immune system's destruction of cancer. 1996-03-22T00:00:00+00001996-04-01T00:00:00+0000Snell was a major founder of immunogenetics as a discipline. He is best known for helping to identify the major histocompatibility complex, a group of genes that code for proteins found on the surface of cells that help the immune system differentiate between self and nonself cells, and demonstrating its role in tissue graft rejection. This work laid the foundation for carrying out successful transplants in both animals and humans. Snell shared the 1980 Nobel Prize for Medicine for 'discoveries concerning genetically determined structures on the cell surface that regulate immunological reactions'.1996-06-06T00:00:00+0000Mazia was an American cell biologist whose passion was to understand how cells reproduce. As a doctoral researcher he was one of the first to establish the role of calcium in the egg activation in the process of fertilisation. Following this worked on the process of cell division, structure and division. He is best known for the work he did in 1931 which helped identify the cell structure responsible for mitosis, the process when a eukaryotic cell divides chromosomes into two identical daughter cells. Mazia also determined how the nucleus and chromosomes change during the cell cycle. 1996-06-09T00:00:00+0000Dolly the sheep was created by cloning an adult cell. This was done by transferring the nucleus of an adult sheep's cell to the nucleus of an unfertilised egg cell. It took 277 attempts to achieve success. The work was carried out by Keith Campbell, Ian Wilmut and colleagues at the Rosilin Institute, PPL Therapeutics and the Ministry of Agriculture. 1996-07-05T00:00:00+0000The child of Polish-Jewish parents, Reichstein was a chemist who in 1933 managed to synthesise vitamin C. His name is associated now with the industrial process for the artificial synthesis of vitamin C. In 1950 he shared the Nobel Prize for Medicine for helping to isolate and explain the function of the hormones of the adrenal cortex and its therapeutic value for treating rheumatoid arthritis. He spent the last three decades of his life working on the phytochemistry and cytology of ferns. '.1996-08-01T00:00:00+0000
Date Event People Places Sciences
23 Jun 1995Jonas Salk diedSalkUniversity of PittsburghVirology, Vaccine
28 Jul 1995First complete genome sequence published for a self-replicating free-living organismVenter, Fleischmann, Adams, White, Clayton, Kirkness, Bult, Tomb, Dougherty, MerrickThe Institute for Genomic Research, Johns HopkinsDNA Sequencing, Genomics
1 Aug 1995Identification of regulatory T cells (CD4+CD25+) and their role in protecting against autoimmunity  Immunology
Nov 1995FDA lifted special restrictions on biotechnology drugs   
1996Complete genome sequence of the first eukaryotic organism, the yeast S. cerevisiae, is published   DNA Sequencing, Genomics
1996First reports that blood stem cell might be able to give rise to cells other than those of the blood systemBlau, Lagasse, Lemischka, Morrison, Thiese, Krause, Gussoni, Bjornson Stem cells
1996Pyrosequencing is introduced for DNA sequencingRonaghi, NyrenRoyal Institute of TechnologyDNA Sequencing, Genomics
1996 - 2002Experiments with rats conducted by different research teams around the world confirm olifactory ensheathing cells help repair spinal cordSmale, Li, Imaizumi, Guntinas-Lichius, Nash, RuitenbergQueen's University, University College London, Yale University, University of Cologne, University of the Health Sciences, Netherlands Institute for Brain ResearchStem cells
Jan 1996MIT Committee on Women issues first report on study of treatment of women faculty in School of Science  Massachusetts Institute of Technology 
1996Davies had her second childDavies  
Jan 1996Dolly the sheep was cloned by Professor Ian Wilmut's team at the Roslin Institute in EdinburghWilmutRoslin InstituteStem cells, Cloning, Transgenic animals
Feb 1996Scientists genetically engineer the first restriction-modification enzymes with tailor-made sequence specifities capable of editing a genome. Kim, Cha, ChandrasegaranJohns Hopkins UniversityGene editing, Zinc fingers, Restriction enzymes
1 Feb 1996Paper published indicating thymus-leukaemia antigen, a cell-surface marker, stimulates T cells to destroy specific target cellsSharmaPennsylvania State UniversityCancer immunotherapy, Oncology
Mar 1996Jennifer Doudna and Thomas Cech unravelled structure of P4-P6 domain of the Tetrahymena thermophila group I intron ribozyme, a particular type of RNADoudna, CechUniversity of ColoradoRNA
22 Mar 1996Mice experiments published demonstrating that blocking the CTLA-4 molecule on immune cells can cure cancerLeach, Krummel, AllisonUniversity of California BerkeleyImmune checkpoint inhibitors, Immunology, Cancer immunotherapy, Oncology
Apr 1996Sharma's first daughter was bornSharma  
6 Jun 1996George D Snell diedSnellJackson LaboratoryGenetics, Immunology, Transplantation
9 Jun 1996Daniel Mazia diedMaziaUniversity of California BerkeleyCell, Genetics, Reproduction
5 Jul 1996Dolly the sheep, the first cloned mammal, was bornWilmut, CampbellRoslin InstituteStem cells, Cloning, Transgenic animals
1 Aug 1996Tadeus Reichstein diedReichsteinBasel UniversityBiochemistry, Endocrinology

23 Jun 1995

Jonas Salk died

28 Jul 1995

First complete genome sequence published for a self-replicating free-living organism

1 Aug 1995

Identification of regulatory T cells (CD4+CD25+) and their role in protecting against autoimmunity

Nov 1995

FDA lifted special restrictions on biotechnology drugs

1996

Complete genome sequence of the first eukaryotic organism, the yeast S. cerevisiae, is published

1996

First reports that blood stem cell might be able to give rise to cells other than those of the blood system

1996

Pyrosequencing is introduced for DNA sequencing

1996 - 2002

Experiments with rats conducted by different research teams around the world confirm olifactory ensheathing cells help repair spinal cord

Jan 1996

MIT Committee on Women issues first report on study of treatment of women faculty in School of Science

1996

Davies had her second child

Jan 1996

Dolly the sheep was cloned by Professor Ian Wilmut's team at the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh

Feb 1996

Scientists genetically engineer the first restriction-modification enzymes with tailor-made sequence specifities capable of editing a genome.

1 Feb 1996

Paper published indicating thymus-leukaemia antigen, a cell-surface marker, stimulates T cells to destroy specific target cells

Mar 1996

Jennifer Doudna and Thomas Cech unravelled structure of P4-P6 domain of the Tetrahymena thermophila group I intron ribozyme, a particular type of RNA

22 Mar 1996

Mice experiments published demonstrating that blocking the CTLA-4 molecule on immune cells can cure cancer

Apr 1996

Sharma's first daughter was born

6 Jun 1996

George D Snell died

9 Jun 1996

Daniel Mazia died

5 Jul 1996

Dolly the sheep, the first cloned mammal, was born

1 Aug 1996

Tadeus Reichstein died