Timeline of key events in biotechnology

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Allers, K, Hutter, G, Hofmann, J, Loddenkemper, C, Rieger, K, Thiel, E, et al,'Evidence for the cure of HIV infection by CCR5?32/?32 stem cell transplantation', Blood, 117/10, (2011): 2791–99.2011-03-10T00:00:00+0000The drug was approved for the treatment of unresectable or metastatic melanoma. The drug uses a monoclonal that blocks CTLA-4 so as to activate an immune response against the cancer.2011-03-25T00:00:00+0000US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia lifted a lower-court injunction, opening the way to resume federal funding of research on embryonic stem cells.2011-04-29T00:00:00+0000Yalow was an American medical physicist who made her name by helping to develop the radioimmunoassay (RIA) technique. RIA uses two reagents. One is a radioisotope atom bound to a molecule of the target substance and the other is an antibody that will bind to the target substance when the two are in contact. Measurements are taken of the initial radioactivity of the mixture which is then added to a measured quantity of fluid, such as blood, that contains low concentrations of an unknown target substance. The test takes advantage of the fact that antibodies prefer to attach to non-radioactive molecules. Measurements are taken of the reduction in radioactivity of the antibody reagent to calculate the concentration of the target substance. The RIA method is now an important component in diagnostic tests, being used to measure the concentration of hormones, vitamins, viruses, enzymes, drugs and other substances. The technique transformed the diagnosis and treatment of diabetes and other hormonal problems related to growth, thyroid function and fertility. It is used to test for phenylketonuria in newborn babies, a rare inherited disorder that if left untreated can lead to intellectual disability, seizures, behavioral problems and mental disorder. In 1977 Yalow became the second woman in history to win the Nobel Prize. It was awarded on the basis of her RIA work. 2011-05-30T00:00:00+0000The first patient to receive the therapy was Sue Freeman, a 78 year old, diagnosed with AMD. The study, approved by the FDA, was designed to test the treatment's safety, not its effectiveness. The therapy involved injecting retinal cells derived from embryonic stem cells into the eyes of patients suffering from dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and Stargardt’s macular dystrophy, leading causes of blindness in the elderly and children, respectively. 2011-07-14T00:00:00+0000The technique replaces genes in targeted organs without replacing cells from the body. The method uses zinc-finger nucleases. Li, H, Haurigot, V, Doyon, Y, Li, T, et al, 'In vivo genome editing restores haemostasis in a mouse model of hemophilia', Nature, 473 (2011), 217-21.2011-07-14T00:00:00+0000Merck gained facility from Sima Therapeutics. Decision driven by company's need to cut costs.2011-07-29T00:00:00+0000Benacerraf was an immunologist who, based on experiments with guinea pigs in the 1960s, provided the pathway to understand how T lymphocytes recognise structures on the cell surface of foreign substances that invade the body. He showed that immune responses are controlled by genes that exist in a certain area on a certain chromosome. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1980 for his discoveries of genes that regulate immune responses and the role some of these genes play in autoimmune disorders. Born in Venezuaela and brought up in Paris, Bernaceraf and his parents were forced to move to United States in 1940 because of their Jewish heritage. 2011-08-02T00:00:00+0000Khorana shared the 1968 Nobel Prize for Medicine for 'interpretation of the genetic code and its function in protein synthesis.'2011-11-09T00:00:00+00002012-01-01T00:00:00+0000Intensive lobbying and political pressure for European Medicines Agency to consider approving the drug for an indication restricted to lipoprotein lipase–deficient patients who have experienced either severe or multiple pancreatitis attacks.2012-01-01T00:00:00+0000Zinder discovered how hereditary information is transferred from one organism to another. The process is known as genetic transduction.2012-02-03T00:00:00+0000Dulbecco was an Italian American who shared the 1975 Nobel Prize for Medicine for 'discoveries concerning the interaction between tumour viruses and the genetic material of the cell.' His work not only aided better understanding of how viruses cause cancer but also HIV. 2012-02-19T00:00:00+0000Emily Whitehead, aged 6, was the first child ever to be given the genetically altered T cells. She experienced severe side effects, including raging fever, dramatic drop in blood pressure, lung congestion, but emerged cancer free. Treatment was led by Carl June. Engineering the T cells was estimated to cost $20,000 per patient. 2012-04-01T00:00:00+0000DuPont commercialised the first bacterial cultures based on the CRISPR-Cas 9 technology for the production of pizza cheese. It involved highly active Steptococcus thermophilus cultures.2012-04-02T00:00:00+0000The patent was submitted by Jennifer Doudna, at the University of California Berkeley, and Emmanuell Charpentier, at the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research in Germany. The application was for a patent to cover the use of CRISPR-Cas9 for genome editing in vitro.2012-05-25T00:00:00+0000Huxley was and English physiologist an biophysicist who helped uncover the mechanism of muscle contraction in 1954 through experiments on the giant axon of the Atlantic Squid. His study of muscle fibres was helped by his development of interference microscopy. Huxley shared the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1963 for 'discoveries concerning the ionic mechanisms involved in excitation and inhibition in the peripheral and central portions of the nerve cell membrane'. 2012-05-30T00:00:00+0000Sharon Peacock and Julian Parkhill together with other researchers from the University of Cambridge and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute used whole genome sequencing to trace the spread of an outbreak of meticillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in Rosie Hospital's special care baby unit. Prospective sequencing then led them to screen staff and identify the potential source of infection. The researchers reported that the cost of DNA sequencing for the infection was half of the 10,000 pounds spent by the hospital to combat the outbreak of MRSA.2012-06-01T00:00:00+0000European Medicines Agency approves alipogene tiparvovec (Glybera) developed by Amsterdam Molecular Therapeutics and marketed by UniQure2012-07-01T00:00:00+0000M Jinek, K Chylinski, I Fonfara, M Hauer, J A Doudna, E Charpentier, 'A programmable dual-RNA-guided DNA endonuclease in adaptive bacterial immunity', Science, 337/6096 (2012): 816-21.2012-08-17T00:00:00+0000
Date Event People Places Sciences
10 Mar 2011Patient suffering from acute myeloid leukaemia is cured of HIV-1 after receiving bone marrow stem cells transplanted from donor with mutated CCR5 gene. This awakens interest in developing HIV treatment that renders a patient's cells resistant to HIV-1Allers, Hutter, Hofmann, Loddenkemper, RiegerCharite-University Medicine BerlinGene therapy, Gene editing, Stem cells
25 Mar 2011First immune checkpoint inhibitor drug targeting CTLA4 (ipilimumab, Yervoy®), approved by the FDAAllisonMedarex, University of California BerkleyImmune checkpoint inhibitors, Cancer immunotherapy, Oncology, Monoclonal antibodies
Apr 2011US funding of embryonic stem cell research permitted  Stem cells
30 May 2011Rosalyn Yalow diedYalowVeterans Administration HospitalDiagnostics, Endocrinology
14 Jul 2011First safety trial launched in humans to test embryonic stem cell therapy to treat blinding diseasesSchwartzUniversity of California Los AngelesStem cells
14 Jul 2011Gene repair kit used successfully to treat blood-clotting disorder haemophilia in miceLi, Haurigot, Doyon, HighChildren's Hospital Philadelphia, Sangamo Biosciences, University of PhiladelphiaGene therapy, Gene editing, Zinc fingers
Jul 2011Merck closes down RNAi research facility  RNA interference
2 Aug 2011Baruj Benacerraf diedBenacerrafHarvard Medical SchoolImmunology
9 Nov 2011Har Gobind Khorana diedKhoranaConcord, Massachusetts, USAGenetics
2012John Gurdon and Shinya Yamanaka win the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the discovery that mature cells can be reprogrammed to become pluripotent stem cellsGurdon, YamanakaCambridge University, Kyoto UniversityStem cells
Jan 2012European Union asks European Medicines Agency to reconsider approval of alipogene tiparvovec Amsterdam Molecular Therapeutics, UniCureGene therapy
3 Feb 2012Norton David Zinder diedZinderRockefeller UniversityGenetics
19 Feb 2012Renato Dulbecco diedDulbeccoImperial Cancer Research Fund LaboratoryGenetics, Virology, Oncology
Apr 2012First child with leukaemia treated with adoptive cell therapy (CAR-T therapy)June, WhiteheadChildren's Hospital of Philadelphia, University of PennsylvaniaCancer immunotherapy, Oncology, Adoptive cell therapy
Apr 2012First commercialisation of CRISPR-Cas 9 technology DupontCRISPR-Cas9, Gene editing
May 2012First patent application submitted for CRISPR-Cas 9 technologyDoudna, CharpentierUniversity of California Berkeley, University of ViennaCRISPR-Cas9, Gene editing
30 May 2012Andrew F Huxley diedHuxleyCambridge University, University College LondonCell, Neuroscience
Jun 2012DNA sequencing helps identify the source of an MRSA outbreak in a neornatal intensive care unitPeacock, ParkhillCambridge University, Wellcome Trust Sanger InstituteDNA Sequencing
Jul 2012First gene therapy approved for treatment of patients with familial lipoprotein lipase deficiency Amsterdam Molecular TherapeuticsGene therapy
17 Aug 2012Publication of radically new gene editing method that harnesses the CRISPR-Cas9 system Jinek, Chylinski, Fonfara, Hauer, Doudna, CharpentierUniversity of California BerkeleyCRISPR-Cas9, Gene editing

10 Mar 2011

Patient suffering from acute myeloid leukaemia is cured of HIV-1 after receiving bone marrow stem cells transplanted from donor with mutated CCR5 gene. This awakens interest in developing HIV treatment that renders a patient's cells resistant to HIV-1

25 Mar 2011

First immune checkpoint inhibitor drug targeting CTLA4 (ipilimumab, Yervoy®), approved by the FDA

Apr 2011

US funding of embryonic stem cell research permitted

30 May 2011

Rosalyn Yalow died

14 Jul 2011

First safety trial launched in humans to test embryonic stem cell therapy to treat blinding diseases

14 Jul 2011

Gene repair kit used successfully to treat blood-clotting disorder haemophilia in mice

Jul 2011

Merck closes down RNAi research facility

2 Aug 2011

Baruj Benacerraf died

9 Nov 2011

Har Gobind Khorana died

2012

John Gurdon and Shinya Yamanaka win the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the discovery that mature cells can be reprogrammed to become pluripotent stem cells

Jan 2012

European Union asks European Medicines Agency to reconsider approval of alipogene tiparvovec

3 Feb 2012

Norton David Zinder died

19 Feb 2012

Renato Dulbecco died

Apr 2012

First child with leukaemia treated with adoptive cell therapy (CAR-T therapy)

Apr 2012

First commercialisation of CRISPR-Cas 9 technology

May 2012

First patent application submitted for CRISPR-Cas 9 technology

30 May 2012

Andrew F Huxley died

Jun 2012

DNA sequencing helps identify the source of an MRSA outbreak in a neornatal intensive care unit

Jul 2012

First gene therapy approved for treatment of patients with familial lipoprotein lipase deficiency

17 Aug 2012

Publication of radically new gene editing method that harnesses the CRISPR-Cas9 system