Timeline of key events in biotechnology

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Rose was an American biochemist who shared the 2004 Nobel Prize for Chemistry for contributing to understandings about how cells break down proteins. He first became interested in the puzzle of how cells identify and destroy unwanted proteins in the 1950s. In the late 1970s he showed that ubiquitin, a protein present in countless tissues, helped tag other proteins that needed to be destroyed. It would then attach itself to another protein that was no longer functioning and take it to the proteasome chamber to be broken down and recycled. Rose also helped in the development of a drug to treat multiple myeloma, a blood cancer. The drug works by disrupting the protein disposal mechanism and kills the cancer cells with a pile-up of protein. 2015-06-03T00:00:00+0000The drugs use a monoclonal antibody to block a protein known as PD-1, which functions as an immune checkpoint, being responsible for preventing the activation of T-cells. Promising results were presented to American Society for Clinical Conference from trials directed towards treating lung and skin cancer. 2015-06-05T00:00:00+0000Launched by Isis Pharmaceuticals (now Ionis) in partnership with Roche, the trial aimed to study the first therapy designed to silence the Huntingdon's disease gene and reduce the production of a protein responsible for the disease. 2015-07-21T00:00:00+0000K.B. Chiappinelli, P.L. Strissel, A. Desrichard, et al, 'Inhibiting DNA methylation causes an interferon response in cancer via dsRNA including endogenous retroviruses', Cell, 162 (2015), 974-86.2015-08-27T00:00:00+00002015-09-02T00:00:00+0000The group is made up of academic scientists, funders and regulators with an interest in embryo and stem cell research. It calls for the establishment of a roadmap for the management of the use of CRISPR in any human reproductive applications.2015-09-11T00:00:00+0000The group is made up of academic scientists, funders and regulators with an interest in embryo and stem cell research. It calls for the establishment of a roadmap for the management of the use of CRISPR in any human reproductive applications.2015-09-11T00:00:00+00002015-09-15T00:00:00+0000Team of scientists led by Kathy Niakan based at Francis Crick Institute in London sought permission from UK Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority to use gene editing techniques like CRISPR-Cas on embryos less than 2 weeks old. Research designed to understand why some women lose their babies before term. 2015-09-18T00:00:00+0000The pigs, a small breed known as Bama, had some of their genes disabled. They were developed for use in studying stem cells, gut microbiota, and Laron syndome, a type of dwarfism caused by a mutation in the human GHR gene. The announcement was made at Shenzhen International Biotech Leaders Summit.2015-09-23T00:00:00+0000Cpf1 is an RNA-guided endonuclease which appears in many bacterial species. It has the advantage that it is a smaller and simpler endonuclease than Cas9 so offers a means to overcome some of the limitations of the CRSIPR/Cas9 gene editing system. B Zetsche, J Gootenberg, O Abudayyeh, I Slaymaker, et al, 'Cpf1 Is a Single RNA-Guided Endonuclease of a Class 2 CRISPR-Cas System', Cell (2015): 1-13.2015-09-25T00:00:00+0000The operation was carried out at Moorfield Eye Hospital, London. It involved transplanting eye cells, called retinal pigment epithelieum, which were derived from stem cells. The surgery was performed by Lyndon Da Cruz as part of the London Project to Cure Blindness, a collaboration between Moorfields, the UCL Institute of Optahalmology and the National Institute for Health Research. 2015-09-29T00:00:00+0000The aim was to to inactivate 62 endogenous retroviruses in the pig embryos. All pigs have these viruses embedded in their genomes. The presence of such viruses, which can transmit diseases like cancer, is a major hurdle to the transplant of pig organs into humans. The gene editing work was carried out by the geneticist George Church of Harvard Medical School. He and his team presented the results to the US National Academy of Sciences. 2015-10-05T00:00:00+00002015-10-05T00:00:00+0000Satoshi Omura, Japanese microbiologist, and William C Campbell, Irish American biologist, awarded Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for discovery of avermectin2015-10-05T00:00:00+0000Statement issued alongside its report 'Updating its Reflection on the Human Genome and Human Rights'. 2015-10-06T00:00:00+0000The recipients of the prize were the Swedish scientist, Tomas Lindahl, American scientist, Paul Modrich and Turkish-American scientist, Aziz Sancar. DNA can be damaged by a number of factors including normal metabolic activities and environmental conditions like radiation. The mechanism of repair involves a number of processes. Repair of DNA is vital to the integrity of the cell's genome and function in the organism. 2015-10-07T00:00:00+0000Trial aimed at assessing the use of stem cells, grown from donated human bone marrow, to slow down or stop tissue damage in kidneys in diabetic patients. The project is led by Timothy O'Brien from the National University of Ireland and funded by 6 million Euro grant from European Union Horizon 2020 programme. 2015-10-20T00:00:00+0000One year old Lalya Richards was given an experimental form of gene therapy using genetically engineered immune cells from a donor to help treat her acute lymphoblastic leukaemia which she had from when she was just three months old. The cells were edited using the TALENs genome editing technique by Paul Vehys and Waseem Qasim. Within a month the new cells had killed off all the cancerous cells in Layla's bone marrow. 2015-11-05T00:00:00+0000J E DiCarlo, A Chavez, S L Dietz, K M Esvelt, G M Church, 'Safeguarding CRISPR-Cas9 gene drives in yeast', Nature Biotechnology, doi:10.1038/nbt.3412.2015-11-16T00:00:00+0000
Date Event People Places Sciences
3 Jun 2015Irwin Rose diedRoseUniversity of California IrvineBiochemistry, Cell, Oncology
5 Jun 2015Two immunotherapy drugs reported to stop cancer cells avoiding destruction by immune system Allison Cancer immunotherapy, Oncology, Monoclonal antibodies
21 Jul 2015Phase 1 clinical trial launched with RNAi treatment for Huntingdon's disease Isis Pharmaceuticals, RocheRNA interference, Gene therapy
27 Aug 2015Experiments with mice showed that azacytidine treatment enhanced the responsiveness of tumors to anti–CTLA-4 therapy  Cancer immunotherapy, Epigenetics, Immune checkpoint inhibitors, Oncology
2 Sep 2015Leading UK research councils, including the MRC, declared support for using CRISPR-Cas9 and other genome editing techniques in preclinical research  CRISPR-Cas9, Gene editing
11 Sep 2015Hinxton Group issues a statement indicating that most of the ethical and moral questions raised about CRISPR and gene editing have been debated before  CRISPR-Cas9, Gene editing
11 Sep 2015Hinxton Group issues a statement indicating that most of the ethical and moral questions raised about CRISPR and gene editing have been debated before  CRISPR-Cas9
15 Sep 2015UK Nuffield Council on Bioethics held its first workshop to identify and define ethical questions relating to developments in genome editing research  CRISPR-Cas9, Gene editing
18 Sep 2015UK scientists sought license to genetically modify human embryos to study the role played by genes in the first few days of human fertilisationNaikanCrick InstituteCRISPR-Cas9, Gene editing
23 Sep 2015Beijing Genomics Institute announced the sale of the first micropigs created with the help of the TALENs gene-editing technique Beijing Genomics InstituteGene editing, TALENS, Transgenic animals
25 Sep 2015New protein, Cpf1, found, offering means to simplify gene editing. Zhang, Zetsche, Gootenberg, Abudayyeh, SlaymakerBroad Institute, Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyCRISPR-Cas9, Gene editing
29 Sep 2015First UK patient recieved experimental stem cell treatment for age-related macular degeneration University College London, National Institute for Health ResearchStem cells
5 Oct 2015CRISPR/Cas9 modified 60 genes in pig embryos in first step to create organs suitable for human transplantsChurchHarvard UniversityCRISPR-Cas9, Gene editing, Transgenic animals
5 Oct 2015Tu Youyou awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the discovery of artemisinin, a treatment for malariaTuChina Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences 
5 Oct 2015Satoshi Omura, Japanese microbiologist, and William C Campbell, Irish American biologist, awarded Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for discovery of avermectinOmura, Campbell  
6 Oct 2015UNESCO’s International Bioethic Committee called for ban on genetic editing of human germline   CRISPR-Cas9, Gene editing
7 Oct 2015Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to scientists for understanding the process of DNA repairLindahl, Modrich, SancarFrancis Crick Institute, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of North CarolinaDNA
20 Oct 2015UK NHS sets up stem cell factory in Liverpool to supply experimental treatment for people with diabetes  Stem cells
5 Nov 2015First successful use of gene therapy to treat baby dying from leukaemiaVehs, QuasimGreat Ormond StreetGene therapy, Gene editing, TALENs
16 Nov 2015US Scientists publish a technique for overwriting changes made by CRISPR/Cas 9DiCarlo, Chavez, Dietz, Esvelt, ChurchHarvard University, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich CRISPR-Cas9, Gene editing

3 Jun 2015

Irwin Rose died

5 Jun 2015

Two immunotherapy drugs reported to stop cancer cells avoiding destruction by immune system

21 Jul 2015

Phase 1 clinical trial launched with RNAi treatment for Huntingdon's disease

27 Aug 2015

Experiments with mice showed that azacytidine treatment enhanced the responsiveness of tumors to anti–CTLA-4 therapy

2 Sep 2015

Leading UK research councils, including the MRC, declared support for using CRISPR-Cas9 and other genome editing techniques in preclinical research

11 Sep 2015

Hinxton Group issues a statement indicating that most of the ethical and moral questions raised about CRISPR and gene editing have been debated before

11 Sep 2015

Hinxton Group issues a statement indicating that most of the ethical and moral questions raised about CRISPR and gene editing have been debated before

15 Sep 2015

UK Nuffield Council on Bioethics held its first workshop to identify and define ethical questions relating to developments in genome editing research

18 Sep 2015

UK scientists sought license to genetically modify human embryos to study the role played by genes in the first few days of human fertilisation

23 Sep 2015

Beijing Genomics Institute announced the sale of the first micropigs created with the help of the TALENs gene-editing technique

25 Sep 2015

New protein, Cpf1, found, offering means to simplify gene editing.

29 Sep 2015

First UK patient recieved experimental stem cell treatment for age-related macular degeneration

5 Oct 2015

CRISPR/Cas9 modified 60 genes in pig embryos in first step to create organs suitable for human transplants

5 Oct 2015

Tu Youyou awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the discovery of artemisinin, a treatment for malaria

5 Oct 2015

Satoshi Omura, Japanese microbiologist, and William C Campbell, Irish American biologist, awarded Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for discovery of avermectin

6 Oct 2015

UNESCO’s International Bioethic Committee called for ban on genetic editing of human germline

7 Oct 2015

Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to scientists for understanding the process of DNA repair

20 Oct 2015

UK NHS sets up stem cell factory in Liverpool to supply experimental treatment for people with diabetes

5 Nov 2015

First successful use of gene therapy to treat baby dying from leukaemia

16 Nov 2015

US Scientists publish a technique for overwriting changes made by CRISPR/Cas 9