Research Triangle Park is known for scientific advances and research within our region, and our five speakers on the topic of Genetics proved just that! While five minutes is nowhere near enough time to share all of the advancements happening in RTP, you can get a small taste of it from our experts.
First up was Janel Lape of Precision BioScience to speak on Genome editing via ARCUS Nuclease and its Therapeutic Potential. A big question to ask: “Is genome editing good or bad?” Janel shared that genome editing can knockout (have a piece of DNA doing something we don’t want and take it out), knockin (add a new piece of DNA), or repair (correct errors in the genome – taking in and out). Then the cell can take care of the rest. Check out the video to learn more about genome editing systems and Precision BioScience.
Next, we had Dr. Katie Barnhill-Dilling of NCSU to speak about Genetic Engineering on the Loose. Genetic engineering can help us combat the accelerating rates of species loss. For example, synthetic coral reefs are being developed in response to climate change. She introduced the story of the American Chestnut Tree that was heavily wiped out by a blight. Through genetic engineering, “they’re bringing in a weak gene that detoxifies the blight in Chestnut Trees and modifying the pathogens.” Check out her video to learn more about what they’re doing to save species through genetic engineering.
Then, Dr. Don Bailey of RTI International joined to talk about Genetics and Newborn Screening. As he says, “we can study genes all we want to, but we need to understand there’s a human essence.” Newborn screening can identify 35 disorders and ~292 disorders can be detected before symptoms appear when using genome sequencing. There are ethical issues that are constantly being discussed in literature surrounding this topic. Check out the chat to see his list of “big questions” surrounding the topic of newborn screening!
Jocylin Pierro of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency then spoke on Genomics in Developing Countries. Jocylin talked specifically about how scientists are looking at ways to combat malaria by introducing an engineering parasite. Jocylin shared points on genomic developments in developing countries, like new solutions for disease control and curing complex diseases. Alternatively, we don’t fully understand the boundaries of genome editing because regulations are constantly evolving and concepts aren’t always known. Tune in to also learn the difference between genetics and genomics!
Last but not least, Sheron Branham of Biogen talked to us about the Accelerating Drug Development of RNA Therapies. First, she introduced ASO (AntiSense Oligonucleotide), which targets messenger RNA after transgression. They can stop translation of a bad protein, or modify translation of a good protein. How is Biogen accelerating their drug development? With things like rapid screening, internal manufacturing, starting at the risk, skipping phase 2, and having a regulatory partner. Find out more about each of these steps in her chat! Ready for more #RTP180?
Our next topic is Cleantech — be sure to register for the January 21 installment!