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CRISPR Crops, Antibiotic Stewardship, Biotech Startup Tips

Biodefense HeadlinesSee what we’re reading this week at Global Biodefense on topics including CRISPR crops, antibiotic stewardship roadmap, and tips for growing a successful biotech startup.


Viewpoint: Why the USDA decided not to over-regulate CRISPR crops

We don’t regulate products to eliminate risk. Zero risk is not an achievable objective. But we can and do regulate to eliminate “unreasonable risk” and manage and mitigate to ensure potential risks do not become unreasonable. Avoiding unreasonable risk has been the explicit objective of US agricultural biotechnology policy since its inception in 1986. Genetic Literacy Project

A pressure test to make 10 molecules in 90 days

Centralized facilities for genetic engineering, or “biofoundries”, offer the potential to design organisms to address emerging needs in medicine, agriculture, industry, and defense. The field has seen rapid advances in technology, but it is difficult to gauge current capabilities or identify gaps across projects. To this end, our foundry was assessed via a timed “pressure test”, in which 3 months were given to build organisms to produce 10 molecules unknown to us in advance. Journal of the American Chemical Society

CRISPR trials are about to begin in people—but we still don’t know how well it works in monkeys

Since cutting DNA would permanently change someone’s genome, scientists need to make sure CRISPR is safe and effective before using it in people. Mice aren’t always an accurate way to predict how humans will react to a new therapy, so scientists often turn to monkeys as the gold standard in research that’s headed for the clinic. MIT Technology Review


Defensive medicine among antibiotic stewards: AntibioLegalMap survey

AntibioLegalMap was an international cross-sectional internet-based survey targeting specialists in ID and CM. Three variables were explored: fear of legal liability in antibiotic prescribing/advising on antibiotic prescription; defensive behaviours in antibiotic prescribing; and defensive behaviours in advising. Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy

Experts report new class of synthetic antibiotics that kills MRSA in mice

Scientists have identified two synthetic retinoids that represent a new class of antibiotics and can kill both growing and persistent MRSA in mice. The eam developed novel ways to screen 82,000 synthetic compounds to identify potential antibiotics that would not be toxic to humans. Of 185 compounds that decreased the ability of MRSA to kill laboratory roundworms, the scientists selected 2 synthetic retinoids, called CD437 and CD1530, as the best candidates. The retinoids impair bacterial membranes. CIDRAP

CDC documents hundreds of cases of ‘unusual’ bacterial resistance in US

Testing by state and local laboratories in the CDC’s Antibiotic Resistance Laboratory Network (ARLN) identified 221 instances of carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) — the so-called “nightmare bacteria” — with rare resistance mechanisms between January and September of last year. Healio

Antimicrobial drug resistance among refugees from Syria, Jordan

Retrospective review of clinical microbiology data of 75 patients admitted in January 2015 with a history of suspected post-trauma infection. All these patients were first treated in field hospitals in Syria; 82.7% were male, and 33% were <16 years old. Twenty-four percent had multiple injuries, 20% had osteomyelitis, and 53% had metal prosthetic implants. Emerging Infectious Diseases

Experts lay out universal framework for stewardship programs

An international team of experts has developed a list of core elements and checklist items to help hospitals around the world use antimicrobial drugs more responsibly. The core elements, published yesterday in Clinical Microbiology and Infection, aim to define the essential and minimum standards for hospital antimicrobial stewardship programs (ASPs) in both high- and low-to-middle-income countries. CIDRAP


Quarantine: traditional disease control still one of the best

Historically, quarantine in Canada has been used to detect and exclude a number of economically important cattle diseases, including pleuropneumonia and foot-and-mouth disease. Quarantine generally consists of separating the newly arrived individuals so there are no opportunities for pathogens spread by direct contact or potential for airborne pathogens to spread. The Western Producer

Biosecurity and surveillance in times of avian influenza

According to a report from Rabobank, the outlook for the global poultry industry is promising. However, one of the main concerns is the continuing volatility caused by avian influenza (AI), which is driving changes in business and control strategies. Poultry World

Zoonotic threats: as unpredictable as they are dangerous

According to the CDC, more than 6 in 10 known infectious diseases are believed to be zoonotic, and three-quarters of new or emerging infectious diseases in humans are zoonotic. Part of the reason it’s hard to predict which viruses will become dangers to humans is because a virus tends to optimize itself for its current host. Contagion Live


Fraudulent SAM accounts lead to more complicated SAM registration requirements

GSA recently announced it is supporting an Inspector General investigation into alleged, third-party fraudulent activity in the System for Award Management (SAM). Contractors would be well advised to confirm independently the accuracy of their current SAM registration. Inside Government Contracts

Seven expert tips on how to grow a successful biotech startup

Biotech startups can bring solutions to some of the biggest problems in the world, making some bucks along the way. But few biotech startups make it to the finish line, a process that, unlike for a software startup, can easily take a decade before the company makes any profit.

Genentech’s new head of small molecules is ready to take on the drug industry’s toughest targets

Wendy Young joined Genentech in 2006, a time when the historically antibody-focused firm was trying to establish equal expertise in small molecules. Today, with small molecules representing roughly half of Genentech’s pipeline, Young finds herself in a new role: conductor. Chemical & Engineering News

Sanofi to send more researchers to Evotec

Sanofi and Evotec are in talks to create an infectious disease research center in Lyon, France, that is open to outside groups. Under the proposed deal, Sanofi’s early-stage infectious disease portfolio and 100 researchers will be folded into Evotec, which will get nearly $75 million and other “significant, long-term funding” from Sanofi. Chemical & Engineering News

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