Timeline of key events in biotechnology

Mouseover the event title for a more detailed description of the event (if available). To search for particular terms in the description of the event enter the term in the box below 'Event' on the table and press 'enter'. Alternatively use the dropdown lists to filter by Person, Place or Science. Click here to clear the filter.

N.M. Gaudelli, A. Komor, H. A. Rees, M. S. Packer, A. H. Badran, D. I. Bryson, D. R. Liu, 'Programmable base editing of A-T to G-C in genomic DNA without DNA cleavage', Nature (2017), doi:10.1038/nature24644. 2017-10-25T00:00:00+0000The vaccine was developed by Dynavax2017-11-01T00:00:00+0000Research conducted by team led by Laurence Zitvogel at the Gustave Roussy Cancer Institute. B.Routy, 'Gut microbiome influences efficacy of PD-1–based immunotherapy against epithelial tumors', Science, eaan3706 DOI: 10.1126/science.aan37062017-11-02T00:00:00+0000Collaborative study led by Jennifer Wargo and Vancheswaran Gopalakrishnan. V. Gopalakrishnan et al, 'Gut microbiome modulates response to anti–PD-1 immunotherapy in melanoma patients', Science, 2 Nov 2017, eaan4236, DOI: 10.1126/science.aan42362017-11-02T00:00:00+0000Treatment was given to Leopold Fotso, a 33 year old man at King's College London using natalizumab, a drug licensed for multiple sclerosis. The trial is being led by Oliver Howe. 2017-11-03T00:00:00+0000The test detects circulating tumour DNA. It was investigated using blood samples from 161 patients with stage 2 and 3 melanoma who had received surgery. Results showed that skin cancer was much more likely to return within a year of surgery in patients with faults in either BRAF or NRAS genes. R J Lee et al, 'Circulating tumor DNA predicts survival in patients with resected high-risk stage II/III melanoma', Annals of Oncology, mdx717, https://doi.org/10.1093/annonc/mdx7172017-11-03T00:00:00+0000CTJ van Velthoven, A de Morree, I M Enger, J O Brett, T A Rando, 'Transcriptional Profiling of Quiescent Muscle Stem Cells In Vivo', Cell Reports, 21/1 (2017), 1994-2004. 2017-11-14T00:00:00+0000Discovery made as a result of study of 177 members of the Old Order of Amish community in Indiana. S. Khan, et al, 'A null mutation in SERPINE1 protects against biological aging in humans', Science Advances, 3/11 (2017), DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aao16172017-11-15T00:00:00+0000Treatment involved editing the patient's DNA using zinc finger nucleases technique. It was carried out on Brian Madeux, a 44 year old man suffering from Hunter syndrome, a metabolic disorder caused by a gene error. The treatment was carried out by Paul Harmatz and his team at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital. The patient was reported not to have experienced no major side effects after the treatment and no safety issued emerged in subsequent months. 2017-11-16T00:00:00+0000Patients with severe haemophilia A received a single infusion of a copy of a missing gene that allows their cells to produce Factor VIII, a protein needed to stop bleeding. This was delivered using an adeno-associated virus vector. The patients were enrolled between September 2015 and April 2016 into one of three dose cohorts at five sites across the UK. The five UK trial sites included: The Royal London, Guys and St Thomas', Birmingham, Cambridge and Hampshire hospitals. At 54 week follow-up 85% of the patients were found to have normal or near normal Factor VIII levels. Thirteen of the patients no longer needed their previously regular treatment. S. Rangarajan, et al, 'AAV5–Factor VIII Gene Transfer in Severe Hemophilia A', New England Journal of Medicine (9 Dec 2017), DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1708483.2017-12-09T00:00:00+00002018-01-01T00:00:00+0000C T Charlesworth et al, 'Identification of Pre-Existing Adaptive Immunity to Cas9 Proteins in Humans', bioRXiv (2018), https://doi.org/10.1101/2433452018-01-05T00:00:00+0000The test hunts for 16 gene that regularly arise in cancer and 8 proteins released by tumours. It was trialled in 1,005 patients with cancers of the ovary, liver, stomach, pancreas, oesophagus, colon, lung or breast that had not yet spread to other tissues. J.D. Cohen et al, Detection and localization of surgically resectable cancers with a multi-analyte blood test', Science, 18 Jan 2018, eaar3247, DOI: 10.1126/science.aar3247 2018-01-17T00:00:00+0000Z. Liu et al, 'Cloning of macaque monkeys by somatic cell nuclear transfer', Cell (2018), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2018.01.020 2018-01-24T00:00:00+0000A team of scientists from the UK, USA and Canada showed the device to be useful in tracing infectious diseases like Ebola and the Zika virus in Africa and the US. The device, called the MiniOn sequencer, was developed by Nick Loman and his doctoral student Josh Quick at the University of Birmingham. The device works by passing long strands of DNA through a tiny hole (the eponymous nanopore). Each of strand transmits a unique electrical signal as it passes through the pore, making it possible sequence the 4 bases of the DNA. The method allows for ultra long sequences of DNA to be worked out, 8,000 times longer than a typical sequencing read. It also makes it possible to sequence previously uncharacterised regions of the genome. Details of the research carried out with device were published in M Jain et a, 'Nanopore sequencing and assembly of a human genome with ultra-long reads', Nature Biotechnology, 36 (2018), 338-45.2018-01-29T00:00:00+00002018-02-01T00:00:00+0000Sulston was a biologist. He played a central role in sequencing the genome of the Caenorhabditis elegans, a transparent nematode (roundworm). It was the first animal to have its genome sequenced. Based on his work with the nematode Sulston helped set up the project to sequence the human genome which he did as director of the Sanger Centre. The first draft of the human genome sequence was completed in 2000. In 2002 he shared the Nobel Prize for identifying how genes regulate the life cycle of cells through apoptosis. 2018-03-09T00:00:00+0000The aim of the drug is to mute hepatitis B genes to give the immune system a chance to fight the hepatitis B infection.2018-03-27T00:00:00+0000Twenty-two patients were treated in the trial over 42 months in six centres around the world. The treatment consisted of taking immature stem cells from the patient's bone marrow and using a harmless virus to infect the cells with a copy of the normal globin gene. The new genetically altered cells were then reintroduced into the patient's bloodstream after their marrow had been cleared of diseased cells using chemotherapy. Nine out of the twenty-two patients severe beta thalassemia were able to cut down on the number of transfusions they needed by 74%, with three of them no longer needing any transfusions at all. The same was true of the twelve out of thirteen patients with less severe thalassemia. A A Thompson et al, 'Gene therapy in patients with transfusion-dependent beta thalassemia', New England Journal of Medicine, 378 (2018), 1479-93.2018-04-19T00:00:00+0000Developed by Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals, the drug, ARC-520, is administered with the antiviral entecavir. The treatment cleared the HBsAg from one patient and substantially reduced it in the remaining patients. The results were presented to the European Association for the Study of the Liver. 2018-05-02T00:00:00+0000
Date Event People Places Sciences
25 Oct 2017Base editing improvements announced for CRISPR technique, providing means to change individual chemical letters of DNA without need to cleave DNAGaudelli, Komor, Rees, Packer, Badran, Bryson, LiuMassachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard UniversityCRISPR-Cas9, Gene editing
Nov 2017FDA approved a two-dose hepatitis B vaccine for use in adults aged 18 and over DynavaxVaccine
2 Nov 2017Cancer patients taking routine antibiotics before or soon after given PD-1 checkpoint inhibitor found to relapse quicker and have shorter survival timeZitvogel, KroemerInstitut Gustave RoussyCancer immunotherapy, Immune checkpoint inhibitors, Oncology, Microbiome
2 Nov 2017Experiments with mice show tumour growth can be reduced by giving faecal transplants from patients who positively responded to cancer immunotherapyWargo, GopalakrishnanMD Anderson Cancer Center, Institute Gustave-RoussyCancer immunotherapy, Immune checkpoint inhibitors, Oncology, Microbiome
3 Nov 2017First patient treated in first clinical trial using monoclonal antibody drug to treat schizophreniaHoweKing's College LondonMonoclonal antibodies
3 Nov 2017Research showed simple blood test can identify patients at most risk of skin cancer returningLee, Gremel, Marshall, Myers, Fisher, Dunn, Dhomen, Corrie, Middleton, Lorigan, MaraisUniversity of ManchesterOncology, DNA sequencing
14 Nov 2017Stem cells in the body found to have significantly different gene-expression profile than stem cells isolated and cultivated in the laboratory van Velthoven, de Morree, Enger, Brett, Rando, Stanford UniversityStem cells
15 Nov 2017Rare mutation of gene called Serpine 1 discovered to protect against biological ageing processKhan, Shah, Klyachko, Baldridge, Eren, Place, Aviv, Puterman, Lloyd-Jones, Heiman, Miyata, Gupta, Shapiro, VaughanNorthwestern University, University of British Columbia, New Jersey Medical School, Tohoku University, DNA sequencing, Genetics, Genomics
16 Nov 2017First patient received therapy involving gene editing inside the bodyHarmatz, MadeuxUniversity of California San FranciscoGene therapy, Gene editing, Zinc fingers
9 Dec 2017Gene therapy shown to be safe and efficacious treatment for haemophilia A in British trialsRangarajan, Walsh, Lester, Perry, Madan, Laffan, Hua Yu, Vettermann, Pierce, Wong, PasiBarts Health NHS Trust, Queen Mary University, BioMarin PharmaceuticalGene therapy
2018Sharma elected to join the American Society for Clinical InvestigationSharma  
5 Jan 2018Researchers identify pre-existing antibodies targeting CAS9 proteins raising possibility of immune responses undermining utility of CRISPR-Cas9 for gene therapyCharlesworth, Deshpande, Dever, Dejene,Gomez-Ospina, Mantri, Pavel-Dinu, Camarena, Weinberg, PorteusStanford UniversityGene therapy, Gene editing, CRISPR-Cas9
17 Jan 2018Blood test detecting mutated DNA and proteins released by tumours shown to pick up early signs of 8 common cancersCohen, Yuxuan Wang, Thoburn, Afsari, Danilova. Douville, Javed, Wong, Mattox, Hruban, Wolfgang, Goggins, Molin, Wang, Roden, Klein, Ptak, Dobbyn, Schaefer, Silliman, Popoli, Vogelstein, Browne, Schoen, Brand, Tie, Gibbs, Wong, Mansfield, Jen, Hanash, FalcJohns Hopkins UniversityDiagnostics, Oncology
24 Jan 2018Chinese scientists cloned the first monkeys by somatic cell nuclear transferLiu, Cai, Wang, Nie, Zhang, Xu, Xiatong, Zhang, Lu, Poo, SunChinese Academy of SciencesCloning
29 Jan 2018Handheld device using nanotechnology shown to be promising tool for sequencing human genomeLoman, Quick, Jain, Koren, Miga, Rand, Sasani, Tyson, Beggs, Dilthey, Fiddes, Malla, Marriot, Nieto, O'Grady, Olsen, Pedersen, Rhie, Richardson, Quinlan, Snutch, Tee, Paten, Philippy, Simpson, LooseUniversity of Birmingham, University of Nottingham, University of Utah, University of British Columbia, University of East Anglia, Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, University of California Santa Cruz, National Human Genome Research InstituteDNA sequencing, Genomics
Feb 2018Hepatitis B Foundation Drug Watch listed 36 drugs at various development stages for chronic hepatitis B   
9 Mar 2018John E Sulson diedSulstonLaboratory of Molecular Biology, Sanger InstituteCell, Genetics, DNA sequencing
27 Mar 2018Dosing trial launched with humans to test use of RNA interference drug to treat hepatitis B Arrowhead PharmaceuticalsRNA interference
19 Apr 2018Gene therapy shown to be promising treatment in clinical trials for beta thalassemiaThompson, Walters, Kwiatkowski, Rasko, Ribeil, Hongeng, Magrin, Schiller, Payen, Smeraro, Moshous, LefrerNorth Western University, University of California San Francisco, University of California Los Angeles, University of Sydney, University of Paris, Harvard University, Mahidol University, German Cancer Research CentreGene therapy
2 May 2018Positive results for RNAi drug for treating chronic hepatitis b reported from 8-person clinical trial Arrowhead PharmaceuticalsRNA interference

25 Oct 2017

Base editing improvements announced for CRISPR technique, providing means to change individual chemical letters of DNA without need to cleave DNA

Nov 2017

FDA approved a two-dose hepatitis B vaccine for use in adults aged 18 and over

2 Nov 2017

Cancer patients taking routine antibiotics before or soon after given PD-1 checkpoint inhibitor found to relapse quicker and have shorter survival time

2 Nov 2017

Experiments with mice show tumour growth can be reduced by giving faecal transplants from patients who positively responded to cancer immunotherapy

3 Nov 2017

First patient treated in first clinical trial using monoclonal antibody drug to treat schizophrenia

3 Nov 2017

Research showed simple blood test can identify patients at most risk of skin cancer returning

14 Nov 2017

Stem cells in the body found to have significantly different gene-expression profile than stem cells isolated and cultivated in the laboratory

15 Nov 2017

Rare mutation of gene called Serpine 1 discovered to protect against biological ageing process

16 Nov 2017

First patient received therapy involving gene editing inside the body

9 Dec 2017

Gene therapy shown to be safe and efficacious treatment for haemophilia A in British trials

2018

Sharma elected to join the American Society for Clinical Investigation

5 Jan 2018

Researchers identify pre-existing antibodies targeting CAS9 proteins raising possibility of immune responses undermining utility of CRISPR-Cas9 for gene therapy

17 Jan 2018

Blood test detecting mutated DNA and proteins released by tumours shown to pick up early signs of 8 common cancers

24 Jan 2018

Chinese scientists cloned the first monkeys by somatic cell nuclear transfer

29 Jan 2018

Handheld device using nanotechnology shown to be promising tool for sequencing human genome

Feb 2018

Hepatitis B Foundation Drug Watch listed 36 drugs at various development stages for chronic hepatitis B

9 Mar 2018

John E Sulson died

27 Mar 2018

Dosing trial launched with humans to test use of RNA interference drug to treat hepatitis B

19 Apr 2018

Gene therapy shown to be promising treatment in clinical trials for beta thalassemia

2 May 2018

Positive results for RNAi drug for treating chronic hepatitis b reported from 8-person clinical trial