Timeline of key events in biotechnology

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P. Liang, et al, 'Correction of beta-thalassemia mutant by base editor in human embryos', Protein and Cell (2017), doi.org/10.1007/s13238-017-0475-6.2017-09-23T00:00:00+0000Total of 17 boys treated in clinical trial, of which 15 showed marked improvement. Treatment used a modified form of HIV as the vector for infusing corrective genes to generate glial cells. F. Eichler, C. Duncan etl al, 'Hematopoietic Stem-Cell Gene Therapy for Cerebral Adrenoleukodystrophy', NEJM, DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa17005542017-10-04T00:00:00+0000The method provided a means to fix genetic mutations without tampering with the genome. It was published in D.B.T. Cox, J.S. Gootenberg, O.O. Abudayyeh, B.Franklin, M.J. Kellner, et al, 'RNA editing with CRISPR-Cas13', Science (25 Oct 2017), eaaq0180, DOI: 10.1126/science.aaq01802017-10-25T00:00:00+0000N.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 genes 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. The work was published in 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+0000The work was undertaken by a group of researchers at the University of Edinburgh led by Evelyn Telfer. It involved taking tiny pieces of ovarian tissue from 10 women undergoing elective caesarean surgery extracting priorial follicles, small structures that have the potential to release an egg, which were then placed in a nutrient-rich liquid to grow. The team then carefully removed the fragile, immature eggs and some surrounding cells from the follicles and placed them on a special membrane with the addition of growth-supporting proteins so that they could grow to become the size you would see of an egg during ovulation. Most of the eggs failed to grow, but 10% completed their journey to maturity - that is they were able to divide and halve their chromosomes so they were ready to be fertilised by sperm. The work was published in M McLaughlin, DF Albertini, WHB Wallace, RA Anderson, EE Telfer, Molecular Human Reproduction, 24/3 (March 2018) 135-42. DOI: 10.1093/molehr/gay002. 2018-01-30T00:00:00+00002018-02-01T00:00:00+0000
Date Event People Places Sciences
23 Sep 2017Chinese researchers report correction of gene linked to beta thalassaemia, inherited blood disorder, in human embryos using base editing techniqueLiang, Ching, Sun, Xie, Xu, Zhang, Xhiong, Ma, Liu, Wang, Fang, Songyang, Zhou, HuangSun Yat-sen University, Baylor College of MedicineCRISPR-Cas9, Gene editing, Reproduction
4 Oct 2017Gene therapy shown in clinical trials to halt progression of adrenoleukodystrophy, a fatal brain disease inherited by boys Eichler, Duncan, WilliamsHarvard University, Bluebird Bio, Boston Children’s Hospital Stem cells, Gene therapy
25 Oct 2017New CRISPR technique published for editing RNA Zhang, Cox, Gootenberg, Abudayyeh, B Franklin, Kellner, Essletzbichler, Verdine, Joung, Lander, Belanto, Voytas, RegevMassachusetts Institute of Technology, University of MinnesotaCRISPR-Cas9, Gene editing, RNA
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
30 Jan 2018First human eggs grown in laboratoryTelfer, McLaughlin, Albertini, Wallace, AndersonUniversity of EdinburgReproduction
Feb 2018Hepatitis B Foundation Drug Watch listed 36 drugs at various development stages for chronic hepatitis B   

23 Sep 2017

Chinese researchers report correction of gene linked to beta thalassaemia, inherited blood disorder, in human embryos using base editing technique

4 Oct 2017

Gene therapy shown in clinical trials to halt progression of adrenoleukodystrophy, a fatal brain disease inherited by boys

25 Oct 2017

New CRISPR technique published for editing RNA

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

30 Jan 2018

First human eggs grown in laboratory

Feb 2018

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