For this month’s main presentation, Albert Xue gave a comprehensive and entertaining overview of the patent interference proceedings between UC Berkeley and the Broad Institute over the patents for using CRISPR to edit eukaryotic genomes. Watch below, and feel free to comment if you have additional insights/opinions about this patent battle.
The November meeting’s main event was a presentation and discussion led by Quentin Dudley about the merits of photosynthetic cyanobacteria as a platform for synthetic biology applications. Watch the video below!
Hey look, we figured out how to embed video! Now you can watch a newsreel summary first, and then read any of the papers that sounded particularly interesting. There are fewer links this month because work in November+December was crazy, but rest assured the January newsreel will be just as exhaustive as usual!
Synbio community news
- Who needs CRISPR gene drives when you have Wolbachia? Scientists have successfully engineered the microbe, which lives in insect cells and spreads to all female offspring (while killing males), to render mosquitos inhospitable to dengue virus.
- The GP-Write white paper came out. STAT summarized it.
- iGEM happened! Many cool things. Grand prize winner was Imperial College London’s team, which engineered different strains of E. coli to co-culture at different population ratios.
- This year’s iGEM saw the launch of bionet, a P2P sharing platform for biological materials developed through the Biobricks foundation and a Drew Endy-led team.
- The Wyss Institute’s work on replacing animal drug testing models with human organoids on chips gets a write-up in Wired.
- UK researchers apply to perform field trials on wheat that has been modified to photosynthesize more efficiently, boosting yields 20% (in a greenhouse).
- The Guardian profiles BioAmber and Bolt Threads, two companies trying to develop yeast-based pipelines for succinic acid and spider silk fabrics, respectively.
- PacBio sues Oxford Nanopore for infringing patents related to reading a single DNA molecule twice. OmicsOmics argues this lawsuit probably won’t damage Oxford Nanopore’s business, and is more an act of desperation from PacBio.
Now, on to the research papers!
- Younger et al. (from Leonard Lab!) builds and characterizes modular, ligand-responsive transcription repressors out of zinc finger proteins and small molecule binding domains.
- Control of gene expression with light continues to develop apace. Han et al. develop split T7 RNA polymerases which are activated by blue light.
- Directed evolution may soon get easier. Researchers use dCas9 to recruit nucleotide deaminase proteins and induce hypermutagenesis at specific genomic sites.