Timeline of key events in biotechnology

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Novartis shut down its collaborative programme with Alynlam based on lingering problems associated with delivering RNAi therapeutics. It marked a major set back for the RNAi therapeutics field as a whole. 2014-04-14T00:00:00+0000Edelman was an American biologist renowned for his research on antibodies, the body's defense against harmful foreign substances like viruses and bacteria. His research helped determine the chemical structure of antibodies in the early 1960s. It showed that antibodies were made up of two light and heavy chains linked together by disulfide bonds. The breakthrough immediately galvanised feverish activity in all fields of immunological science, paving the way to the development of antibodies for both diagnostics and therapy. Edelman was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1972 for his work. 2014-05-17T00:00:00+0000Researchers at the Institute for Regenerative Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, reported the generation of stem cells by putting the nucelus of an adult skin cell inside an egg that went through the initial stages of embryonic development. YG Chung, JH Eum, JE Lee, SH Shim, V Sepilian, S W Hong, Y Lee, NR Treff, Y H Choi, EA Kimbrel, R Dittman, R Lonza, DR Lee, 'Human Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer Using Adult Cells', Cell Stem Cell, 14/6 (2014), 777-80.2014-06-05T00:00:00+0000The drug was developed by scientists at Medarex2014-09-01T00:00:00+0000Yi et al, 'CCR5 Gene Editing of Resting CD4+ T Cells by Transient ZFN Expression From HIV Envelope Pseudotyped Nonintegrating Lentivirus Confers HIV-1 Resistance in Humanized Mice', Molecular Therapy Nucleic Acids, 3 (2014),:e198.2014-09-10T00:00:00+0000Paralysed patient able to walk after his spinal cord was treated with olifactory ensheathing cells, specialist cells that aid the sense of smell, taken from his nose. The treatment was developed by Geoff Raisman and colleagues at University College London's Institute of Neurology together with Pawel Tabakow at Wroclaw Medical University. The research was supported by the Nicholls Spinal Injury Foundation and the UK Stem Cell Foundation. 2014-10-21T00:00:00+0000Known as Lemtrada, alemtuzumab was originally developed by Herman Waldmann as a tool for the investigation of immune tolerance. The drug, which is the oldest numanised monoclonal antibod,y is now used for many different diseases. Alastair Compston was the clinician who pioneered the use of the antibody for the treatment of multiple sclerosis. The first patient treated for multiple sclerosis with the drug happened in 1991. For more on the long history of the drug see http://whatisbiotechnology.org/index.php/exhibitions/campath2014-11-25T00:00:00+0000The drug (nivolumab, Opdivo®), a monoclonal antibody, was approved by the FDA for the treatment of patients with melanoma. The foundation for the drug was laid by the discovery by of the PD-1 protein in 1992 and the work of Gordon Freeman and his team at Dana-Faber Institute which showed that cancer cells can hijack the protein to evade attack by the immune system. 2014-12-22T00:00:00+0000The application was submitted by Sangamo BioSciences. The therapy is based on a platform that uses zinc finger nucleases to replace a defective gene that causes haemophilia.2015-01-01T00:00:00+0000The trials undertaken from 2013 used a drug that interferes with RNA. The drug was developed by Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals. The aim of the drug is to reduce the surface antigens (HBsAg) created by chronic hepatitis B infections. The trials showed the experimental drug was safe and effective enough to be tested in people. The drug is designed to deliver a molecule to the liver where it binds to a receptor, and then another molecule, derived from bee venom, helps break through the membranes in the liver cells to deliver the medicine directly into the cells. The drug interferes with the the expression of the hepatitis B messager RNA that produces HBsAg. 2015-01-01T00:00:00+0000The NYSCF's Initiative of Women in Science and Engineering recommended: 1) grant-making organisations provide flexible funding to pay for childcare, eldercare and family-related expenses; 2) creation of gender-neutral award programmes for newly independent young investigators who are primary care givers to be able to hire extra assistance for their research; 3) funders adopt gender-conscious review committees and speaker selection committee recruitment policies; 4) development of a record card system like the UK Athena SWAN scheme to assess gender equality institutions for grant applications; 5) expand upon existing searchable database of women in science, medicine and engineering. K A Smith, et al 'Seven Actionable Strategies for Advancing Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine', Cell Stem Cell 16/3 (2015), 221-24.2015-03-05T00:00:00+0000W Feng, Y Dai, L Mou, D Cooper, D Shi, Z Cai, 'The potential of the combination of CRISPR/Cas9 and pluripotent stem cells to provide human organs from chimaeric pigs', International Journal of Molecular Science, 16/3 (2015): 6545-56. Human organs produced in pigs have the potential to make up for the shortfall in human donors. They are also less likely to provoke immune responses in patients and thereby rejection. 2015-03-23T00:00:00+0000One of the scientists calling for the moratorium was Fydor Urnov who had helped develop the first genome editing technology known as zinc-finger nucleases. The scientists were concerned that genetic modifications to human reproductive could pose serious risks to future generations and the therapeutic benefits were tenuous. E Lanphier, F Urnov, S E Haecker, M Werner, J Smolenski, 'Don't edit the human germ line', Nature, 519 (2015): 410-11.2015-03-26T00:00:00+00002015-04-01T00:00:00+0000More than 82 per cent of the patients went into remission. 2015-04-01T00:00:00+0000NIH issued its ban after researchers in China announced experiments altering the gene in non-viable zygotes. 2015-04-15T00:00:00+00002015-04-22T00:00:00+0000The work was carried out by a team of scientists led by Junjiu Huang at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, China. The team used CRISRPR-Cas to modify a gene responsible for a blood disorder in spare embryos from fertility clinics that could not progress to a live birth. They published their results in P Liang , Y Xu , X Zhang et al, 'CRISPR/Cas9-mediated gene editing in human tripronuclear zygotes', Protein and Cell, 6/5 (2015): 363-72. 2015-05-01T00:00:00+0000Rose 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+0000
Date Event People Places Sciences
14 Apr 2014Novartis suddenly pulls plug on RNAi research NovartisRNA interference
17 May 2014Gerald M Edelman diedEdelmanRockefeller UniversityAntibodies, Immunology
5 Jun 2014First embryonic stem cells cloned from a man's skinChung, Eum, Lee, Shim, Sepilian, Hong, Lee, Treff, Choi, Kimbrel, Dittman, LonzaUniversity of PennsylvaniaStem cells
Sep 2014FDA approved nivolumab (Opdivo®), an immune checkpoint inhibitor targeting PD1, for treating melanoma  Immune checkpoint inhibitors, Immuotherapy, Oncology, Monoclonal antibodies
10 Sep 2014Mice trials show CD4 T-cells genetically modified with Zinc fingers could be effective HIV-1 gene therapy Yi, Choi, Bharaj, AbrahamTexas Tech University, University of North CarolinaGene therapy, Gene editing, Zinc fingers
Oct 2014Stem cells taken from nose demonstrated to repair spinal cord injury Raisman, TabakowUniversity College London, Wroclaw Medical UniversityStem cells
25 Nov 2014FDA approved alemtizumab for relapsing MS who failed to respond to alternative treatmentsWaldmann, CompstonAddenbrookes Hospital, SanofiCampath
22 Dec 2014First immune checkpoint inhibitor drug targeting PD-1 approved in US Honko, Freeman, LonbergMedarex, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Ono Pharmaceutical, Kyoto UniversityImmune checkpoint inhibitors, Cancer immunotherapy, Oncology, Monoclonal antibodies
1 Jan 2015US FDA cleared Investigative Drug Application for clinical trial of gene therapy for haemophila B. The therapy was the first in vivo genome editing application to enter the clinicEwing, ZaiaSangamo Biosciences, City of Hope National Medical CenterGene therapy, Gene editing, Zinc fingers
2015Chimpanzee trials indicated that gene silencing drug could treat hepatitis B  Arrowhead PharmaceuticalsRNA interference
5 Mar 2015Guidelines issued to promote and ensure gender equality in science by New York Stem Cell Foundation working partySmith, Arlotta, Watt, Soloman Women, Initiative
Mar 2015Scientists suggest CRISPR/Cas9 used with stem cells could provide human organs from transgenic pigsFeng, Dai, Mou, Cooper, Shi, Cai Shenzhen University, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Guangxi UniversityCRISPR-Cas9, Gene editing
26 Mar 2015US scientists call for a voluntary worldwide moratorium on the use of genome editing tools to modify human reproductive cellsLamphier, Urnov CRISPR-Cas9, Gene editing, Zinc fingers
Apr 2015Chinese regulatory authorities approved Chidamide, a histone deactylase inhibitor, for peripheral T cell lymphoma  Epigenetics, Oncology
Apr 2015 - Aug 2016Adoptive cell therapy (CAR-T therapy) trial conducted with 63 leukaemia patients in 11 countriesJuneNovartisCancer immunotherapy, Onoclogy, Adoptive cell therapy
15 Apr 2015National Institutes of Health declared it will not fund any use of genome editing technologies in human embryos  CRISPR-Cas9, Gene editing, Reproduction
22 Apr 2015UK Nuffield Council on Bioethics launched a new working group to look into institutional, national and international policies and provisions relevant to genome editing  CRISPR-Cas9, Gene editing
1 May 2015First report of genes edited in human embryos ignited global ethical debate about gene edting technologyHuang, Liang, Xu, ZhangSun Yat-sen UniversityCRISPR-Cas9, Gene editing
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

14 Apr 2014

Novartis suddenly pulls plug on RNAi research

17 May 2014

Gerald M Edelman died

5 Jun 2014

First embryonic stem cells cloned from a man's skin

Sep 2014

FDA approved nivolumab (Opdivo®), an immune checkpoint inhibitor targeting PD1, for treating melanoma

10 Sep 2014

Mice trials show CD4 T-cells genetically modified with Zinc fingers could be effective HIV-1 gene therapy

Oct 2014

Stem cells taken from nose demonstrated to repair spinal cord injury

25 Nov 2014

FDA approved alemtizumab for relapsing MS who failed to respond to alternative treatments

22 Dec 2014

First immune checkpoint inhibitor drug targeting PD-1 approved in US

1 Jan 2015

US FDA cleared Investigative Drug Application for clinical trial of gene therapy for haemophila B. The therapy was the first in vivo genome editing application to enter the clinic

2015

Chimpanzee trials indicated that gene silencing drug could treat hepatitis B

5 Mar 2015

Guidelines issued to promote and ensure gender equality in science by New York Stem Cell Foundation working party

Mar 2015

Scientists suggest CRISPR/Cas9 used with stem cells could provide human organs from transgenic pigs

26 Mar 2015

US scientists call for a voluntary worldwide moratorium on the use of genome editing tools to modify human reproductive cells

Apr 2015

Chinese regulatory authorities approved Chidamide, a histone deactylase inhibitor, for peripheral T cell lymphoma

Apr 2015 - Aug 2016

Adoptive cell therapy (CAR-T therapy) trial conducted with 63 leukaemia patients in 11 countries

15 Apr 2015

National Institutes of Health declared it will not fund any use of genome editing technologies in human embryos

22 Apr 2015

UK Nuffield Council on Bioethics launched a new working group to look into institutional, national and international policies and provisions relevant to genome editing

1 May 2015

First report of genes edited in human embryos ignited global ethical debate about gene edting technology

3 Jun 2015

Irwin Rose died

5 Jun 2015

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