Why Is 100-Year-Old BCG Vaccine So Broadly Protective In Newborns? Study Finds Changes in Metabolite and Lipid Profiles, Providing Clues for Designing Future Vaccines for Newborns; BCG Vaccine Induces Changes in Cytokine Levels Characteristic of Innate Immune Response

The century-old Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine against tuberculosis is one of the world’s oldest and most widely used vaccines, used to immunize 100 million newborns every year. Given in countries with endemic TB, this vaccine has surprisingly been found to protect newborns and young infants against multiple bacterial and viral infections unrelated to TB. There’s even some evidence that it can reduce severity of COVID-19. What’s special about BCG vaccine? How does it protect infants so broadly? It turns out little is known. To understand its mechanism of action, researchers at the Precision Vaccines Program at Boston Children’s Hospital partnered with the Expanded Program on Immunization Consortium (EPIC), an international team studying early life immunization, to collect and comprehensively profile blood samples from newborns immunized with BCG, using a powerful “big data” approach. Their study, published online May 3, 2022 in Cell Reports, found that the BCG vaccine induces specific changes in metabolites and lipids that correlate with innate immune system responses. The findings provide clues toward making other vaccines more effective in vulnerable populations with distinct immune systems, such as newborns. The open-access article is titled “Bacille Calmette-Guérin Vaccine Reprograms Human Neonatal Lipid Metabolism in Vivo and in Vitro.”

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Precision Medicine World Conference (PMWC 2022) Will Take Place June 28-30 in Santa Clara, California; Special Awards Ceremony Will Be Held Evening Before Opening of Conference; Ten Topic Tracks in Conference, 400+ Speakers, 90+ Exhibitors

The world-renowned Precision Medicine World Conference 2022 (PMWC 2022) will be held in person June 28-30 in Santa Clara, California, the heart of Silicon Valley. PMWC 2022 will feature over 400 outstanding speakers and ten different tracks of focus across the full breath of precision medicine over three full days of sessions. There will also be more than 90 company exhibits. You may register to attend this superb conference here. On the Monday evening (June 27), before Tuesday’s conference opening, the PMWC will present its 2022 Luminary and Pioneer Awards to four outstanding scientists. This ceremony and award reception require an RSVP and a separate registration ticket. The reception will begin at 6 pm and will be followed by the awards ceremony at 7 pm. Both will take place at the meeting venue, the Santa Clara Convention Center. Further information on this ceremony can be obtained here. The agenda for the awards ceremony is here. See additional details here and here. Again, RSVP and separate registration are required for the Awards Ceremony. Send inquiries to team@pmwcintl.com to see if space is available for this special event. 

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Dog Coronavirus Jumps to Humans, with Change in N-Terminus of Spike Protein

Cornell University researchers and colleagues have identified a shift that occurs in canine coronavirus that may provide clues as to how it transmits from animals to humans. A new canine coronavirus was first identified in two Malaysian human patients who developed pneumonia in 2017-18. A group of other scientists isolated the canine coronavirus, sequenced it, and published their findings in 2021. Now, a team led by researchers from Cornell and Temple University has identified a pattern that occurs in a terminus of the canine coronavirus spike protein–the area of the virus that facilitates entry into a host cell. This pattern shows the virus shifts from infecting both the intestines and respiratory system of the animal host to infecting only the respiratory system in a human host. The researchers identified a change in the terminus–known as the N-terminus–a region of the molecule with alterations also detected in another coronavirus, which jumped from bats to humans, where it causes a common cold.

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CRISPR Technology Offers Chance to Combat Threat Glassy-Winged Sharpshooter Poses to Grapevines; Insect Pest Can Spread Bacterial Pierce’s Disease Through Vineyards; Infected Vines Will Generally Die within Three Years

Glassy-Winged Sharpshooter
Scientists at the University of California (UC) Riverside (UCR) have a shot at eradicating a deadly threat to vineyards posed by the glassy-winged sharpshooter, just as its resistance to insecticide has been growing. When the half-inch-long flying insect feeds on grapevines, it transmits bacteria that causes Pierce’s Disease. Once infected, a vine is likely to die within three years–a growing problem for California’s $58 billion wine industry. Currently, the sharpshooter can only be controlled with quarantines and increasingly less effective chemical sprays. New gene-editing technology represents hope for controlling the sharpshooter. Scientists at UCR demonstrated that this technology can make permanent physical changes in the insect. They also showed these changes were passed down to three or more generations of insects. A paper describing the team’s work was published on April19, 2020 in Scientific Reports. The open-access article is titled “Efficient CRISPR/Cas9-Mediated Genome Modification of the Glassy-Winged Sharpshooter Homalodisca vitripennis (Germar).”

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Vitti Labs Announces FDA Approval of Phase II IND Clinical Trial of Combination Mesenchymal Stem Cell and Exosome Treatment of Pulmonary Fibrosis Secondary to Novel Corona Virus Infection (COVID-19)

On May 2, 2022, Vitti Labs, an AATB-Accredited tissue bank focused on life science research, development, and manufacturing, announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved their Investigational New Drug Application (IND) to move forward with a Phase II Outpatient Clinical Trial using a combination of umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cells and mesenchymal stem cell exosomes for the treatment of treatment of pulmonary fibrosis secondary to novel corona virus infection (COVID-19). Vitti Labs is the first to bring a Phase II trial for this treatment using these therapeutics.  

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Thanks to Their Unique Sensory Integration, the Fruit Bat Is an Outstanding Navigator, Even By Day; For First Time, Researchers Find That Bats Navigate During Day Using Combination of Superb Vision and Echolocation

A new Tel Aviv University study has found that fruit bats use their biological sonar during the day, even though their vision is excellent and would ostensibly eliminate the need for the bats to emit calls to the environment and use their echoes to locate objects (echolocation). The researchers believe that due to the high accuracy of the bats’ bio-sonar system in estimating how far objects are, echolocation offers an additional tool – on top of vision–to help ensure that the bats are navigating as effectively as possible. This is similar to a person crossing the street using their sense of hearing as well as sight to make sure the road is clear.

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New Technique Shows in Detail Where Drug Molecules Hit Their Targets in the Body; Scripps Research Article Published In Cell

Scientists at Scripps Research have invented a way to image, across different tissues and with higher precision than ever before, where drugs bind to their targets in the body. The new method could become a routine tool in drug development. Described in a paper in Cell on April 27, 2022, the new method, called CATCH, attaches fluorescent tags to drug molecules and uses chemical techniques to improve the fluorescent signal. The researchers demonstrated the method with several different experimental drugs, revealing where–even within individual cells–the drug molecules hit their targets. “This method ultimately should allow us, for the first time, to see, relatively easily, why one drug is more potent than another, or why one has a particular side effect while another one doesn’t,” says study senior author Li Ye, PhD, Assistant Professor of Neuroscience at Scripps Research and The Abide-Vividion Chair in Chemistry and Chemical Biology.

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Exosomes May Improve Delivery of Anticancer Drugs to Tumors, New Study Suggests

A new study, published on April 20, 2022 as an open-access article in Cancer Medicine, indicates that exosomes, small membrane-bounded vesicles that transport molecules from one cell to another, can be effective vehicles for delivering cancer treatments to tumors. In the study, researchers used exosomes produced by cells called adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cells (ADSCs) to deliver an RNA-based anti-cancer treatment (miR-138-5p) to bladder cancer tumors in mice. “The present results reveal that ADSC-derived exosomes are an effective delivery vehicle for small molecule drugs in vivo, and exosome-delivered miR-138-5p is a promising therapeutic agent for bladder cancer treatment,” the authors wrote.

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Novel Therapy (Sustainrd Release of Nitric Oxide) Ameliorates Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes in Mice Fed High-Fat Diet; May Be Safe and Efficient Way to Prevent and Treat Multiple Metabolic Diseases

A novel therapy developed at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) ameliorates obesity and Type 2 diabetes in mice fed a high-fat diet. The therapy acts through sustained release of nitric oxide, a gaseous signaling chemical whose most important function in the body is relaxing the inner muscles of blood vessels. “Because reduced bioavailability of nitric oxide is the hallmark of cardiometabolic syndrome, supplying exogenous nitric oxide at a sustained level may be an efficient way of treating the cardiometabolic syndrome,” said Jeonga Kim, PhD, Associate Professor and leader of the UAB study. “The strategy of reducing body weight by the local delivery of nitric oxide may be a novel, efficient, and safe way to prevent and treat multiple metabolic diseases.” This study, published on April 25,2022 in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, used an ingenious self-assembling, nanomatrix gel capable of releasing a burst of nitric oxide in the first 24 hours, followed by sustained nitric oxide release for four weeks. The gel was developed by UAB researchers Ho-Wook Jun, PhD, and Brigitta Brott, MD, and it is licensed through the UAB Harbert Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship by their UAB spinoff company, Endomimetics LLC. The article is titled ““Subcutaneous Administration of Nitric Oxide-Releasing Nanomatrix Gel Ameliorates Obesity and Insulin Resistance in High Fat Diet-Induced Obese Mice.”

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ShiftBio Partners with RoosterBio to Accelerate Development of a Novel Genetically Engineered Exosome (SBI-102) for Currently Untreatable Disease Indications

On April 26, 2022, ShiftBio, a leader in the development of innovative exosome platform technologies, announced a strategic partnership with RoosterBio Inc., a leading supplier of human mesenchymal stem/stromal cells (MSCs), highly engineered media, and bioprocess development services. This partnership will accelerate ShiftBio’s therapeutic candidates, starting with SBI-102 (stem cell-derived exosomes expressing a therapeutic ligand), into the clinic. Through this partnership, RoosterBio will develop a cGMP manufacturing process designed to meet the needs for Phase I/II clinical trials, with the ability to scale as needed for Phase III and commercial production. RoosterBio will design and execute all process development studies, leveraging its industry-leading cell and media product portfolio.

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