Weekly Roundup: biotechin.asia

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Weekly roundup: February 1st – February 7th

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WHO declares Zika Virus a global health emergency

The World Health Organization on Monday declared the mosquito-borne Zika virus to be an international public health emergency as the disease linked to thousands of birth defects such as microcephaly in Brazil spreads rapidly. Click here to read more.

C-section babies could benefit from microbial transfer from mom’s vagina

Babies delivered by C-section differ from babies delivered vaginally in the makeup of the microbes (microbiome) that live in and on their bodies. These early microbiomes help educate the baby’s developing immune system. In a small pilot study, researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai determined that a simple swab to transfer vaginal microbes from a mother to her C-section-delivered newborn can alter the baby’s microbial makeup (microbiome) in a way that more closely resembles the microbiome of a vaginally delivered baby. Click here to read more.

Indian company claims development of world’s first Zika virus vaccine

Scientists at a lab in Hyderabad, India claim that they have developed the world’s first vaccine against Zika virus. In fact, they claim to have made two of them! This comes close on the heels of an announcement yesterday by a French company, Sanofi Pasteur, about the launch of vaccine research and development project to target the Zika virus. Click here to read more.

BIO-IDEATE: DIY Asian Biohack Award

biotechin.asia and Croeni Foundation announce the launch of the 1st “BIO-IDEATE-DIY Asian Biohack Award”. This award entitles biohackers with cash awards and enables them to create open source innovations for health; DIY Biotech for millions in low income and developing countries.

This award is exclusively by and for Asia. This biohack competition is specifically for residents of the Asian continent and meant for innovations that seek to address Asia’s unique problems. Click here to read more.

UK scientists gain approval to edit genes in human embryos

UK scientists have gained approval to use the new “gene editing” technique on human embryos for research, announced HFEA, UK’s fertility regulator.

The approval came through, after a group at the Francis Crick Institute led by group leader, Dr Kathy Niakan applied for a research license to use CRISPR-Cas9 to understand the genes, human embryos need to develop successfully. It is purely meant for research purposes and will look at the first seven days of a fertilised egg’s development (from a single cell to around 250 cells). Click here to read more.

IVF failure linked to genetic pattern in the womb

In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) procedures have often been the answer to the prayers of many couples.  In IVF, the egg from the female and the sperm from the male is fertilized in the laboratory (in vitro) and after growing this fertilized embryo for a short period, it is implanted into the womb of the female. Experts from the University of Southhampton and Netherlands in their recently published study inScientific Reports  claim that they have identified a specific genetic pattern in the womb that could predict whether or not IVF treatment is likely to be successful. Click here to read more.

Massive genomic study provides intriguing insights into Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is one of the most debilitating mental illness that changes the way a person thinks, acts, expresses emotions, perceives reality, and relates to others. The disorder, which is not age or gender- specific, has always been treated only for its symptoms since the genetic cause was an enigma, up until now. Scientists from the Broad Institute, Harvard Medical School and Children’s Hospital in Boston, led by Steven McCaroll, have found a specific gene responsible for ‘eating up’ synapses and leading to an abnormal loss of grey matter. Click here to read more.