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Infographic – What is Crispr?

Crispr explainer

(CB Insights)

9 Feb. 2019. One hot topic we’ve covered almost from the beginning at Science & Enterprise is Crispr — clustered, regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats — a genome editing technique derived from bacterial defense systems. Our first story about the technique dates back to August 2013, but we were also among the early chroniclers of financing for start-up companies commercializing Crispr like Editas Medicine and Crispr Therapeutics, now in full swing developing treatments and licensing their technologies.

Even as Crispr has gained commercial traction and public attention, there’s still a need for a good illustrated introduction to the technique, which or friends at CB Insights published on Thursday, our infographic for this weekend. The chart is part of a larger report on the state of Crispr technology and its applications. Listed below are links to some of our recent stories on Crispr.

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The Organizing Trend Will Benefit Your Business

– Contributed content –

Laptop and file storage on desk

(Fancycrave, Pexels.com)

9 Feb. 2019. Organization seems to have turned from a niche subject matter into a global juggernaut trend over the past couple of years. From the phenomenon of Marie Kondo which has has everyone reorganizing areas of their home from their garage to their sock drawer, to the growing focus on organization as a part of user experience design, it seems that everyone is streamlining, categorizing and busy tidying up. The fact is, the sheer volume of options and information that we all face on a daily basis – in business and in our personal lives – is completely overwhelming. It’s led to a type of cognitive dissonance where we’re struggling to think about the noise level our things create. Getting properly organized is an antidote to all of that, a chance to think clearly and focus on the most important items. And what business couldn’t do with a little more of that?

In a world increasingly obsessed with curating, eliminating and tidying, professional organizers are a growing commercial force and a macro-trend that is impacting operations the world over. Even commercial giant eBay has recent launched it’s eBay Valet service to take advantage of the swelling need for us to organize and downsize, while Japanese organizational queen Marie Kondo is riding high with a trending series on Netflix, and being named one of Time Magazine’s Most Influential People last year. Shows like Clean Sweep and Mission: Organization have taken over our TV screens and professional organizers aren’t just for celebrities anymore. Getting organized has become elevated to the status of virtue signalling for individuals, and there is much businesses can also take from the trend and bring on board to help everything run much more smoothly and efficiently.

Why organization matters to business

Companies struggle all day with time and task management. As a business leader, you will be required to juggle many different tasks, often with competing deadlines, and to split your efforts in many different directions. This means that being both efficient and effective becomes hugely important – for the health of the business and for your own sanity. Where a business does not have the correct systems in place, you find that tasks tend to bottleneck around a programme or a process which is not fully optimized. The issue builds up until it becomes a time drain – resulting in futile effort, lost productivity and squandered profits. Many a business has hugely benefited from bringing in an operations consultant who is able to have a clear line of vision in engineering processes, optimizing software and eliminating waste.

Benefits of an organized approach

There are so many positives your company can gain from making a conscious and sustained decision to focus on better organization. Firstly, there is all the time you’ll save. It may only seem a couple of minutes at a time for you to search through a pile of disorganized papers or a chaotic email inbox, but multiply this by the hundreds of small tasks we process on an an average morning and across all employees and it adds up to a huge amount of wasted time. Going for the best matter management tools and the right software and physical storage solutions for your business can claim back hours, days and weeks of wasted time. Some areas of organization, if not up to scratch, have a legal implication – think misplaced supplier contracts, incomplete tax documents and forgotten HR items. So there is the very real possibility that businesses could be in danger of facing hefty legal bills or taxation fines if their house isn’t in order.

Organization is also at the root of good financial management, which every successful business needs. Cloud based systems which can monitor receivables, produce timely invoices, chase clients and issue prompt payment to creditors are a must if a business has any hope of planning cash flow and making accurate financial projections. The smooth working of a supply chain and the service offered to customers depends on your company staying on top of the money coming in and going out, and having that information readily available is the essential support needed to make adjustments in reducing spending and increasing sales which can lead to prosperity.

In a globally competitive marketplace, there is also necessarily a relentless focus on delighting customers and turning them into brand advocates. The value of this is seen not just in a higher average transaction cost and the relative expense of acquiring new customers versus retaining existing ones, but also in the reputation excellent service creates for your company. The age of social media and peer review sites has created a lot more transparency, and thus can either work in your favor and win you tonnes more referrals without draining your marketing budget or it can set you up for failure and do untold reputational damage that is extremely hard to undo. If bad organisation leads to delays in processing orders or providing a crucial service, or poor billing systems result in erroneous charges, your business is going to suffer the cost eventually.

Lastly, there is a huge amount to be said for the management of stress levels proper business organization can bring. Where you are operating in a disorganized environment, there is a constant, low level stress at play that can be toxic to mental and physical health over time. Many thousands of workers across the country are signed off with stress related illnesses each month, and that corresponding drop in productivity has a huge cost – the economy in the UK alone loses an estimated £100 billion per year from stress at work. A large proportion of that can be remedied very simply and without huge expense, simply by streamlining processes and finding the correct software solutions to bring organization to your business. So, with all those factors at play, it could be the year to take a long hard look at the shortcomings in your business and tap into the organizational trend with a few simple moves.

Tackle your office space and storage

Running a truly organized business starts with ensuring that your physical surroundings are in order. Studies have shown that clutter reduces our ability to think logically, so creating a more streamlined environment for workers is essential. Apply this concept from the shop floor to the C-suite – if you want to perform at the highest level, you’d be surprised how much of your daily productivity and mental flow is impacted by having a tidier desk. Take a review of storage options and ensure that you create a dedicated space for anything which needs to be in reach and eliminate anything that doesn’t. Vertical storage options have the power to really improve the storage capacity and efficiency of the working space. It makes sense from both an efficiency, a cost and an environmental perspective to cut down on the amount of paper that flows through an office. Try restrictions on printing and looking into tools for a paperless office including cloud based document storage and practical additions such as document signing software. If some paper based files are unavoidable, opt to have them stored off site by an archiving company with an online management system and highly secure premises.

Tackle your customer management processes

Without happy customers, a business doesn’t have much, no matter what size it is. So it’s important to keep good customer relations near the top of the priority list. Any kind of disorganisation when it comes to this area can reflect very badly on your business and it’s service, and in the age of review sites and social media word spreads very quickly. Just think of all the bad restaurant reviews that you’ve seen on TripAdvisor. When planning an excellent customer experience, a good CRM system is absolutely key to organise the information you hold about them and allow for things like segmentation, personalized marketing and a data driven approach to your decisions. A system which includes customer support software to help tackle any issues quickly and efficiently is key. In this area, AI technology such as chatbots can also help to give some service around the clock, resolve straightforward queries immediately, signpost to relevant information or channel more complex queries to the right person quicker.

Organizing your marketingAnother angle that great software can support with is executing great marketing campaigns. Even the biggest companies can make the mistake of having a disjointed, not very well organized approach to their promotional activities. There is no excuse not to be more planned – even if you think you work in an industry where you need to be responsive, planning in 80 per cent of the activity in advance still leaves you with 20 per cent capacity to jump on trends and react to competitor activity and external market changes. Get your ducks in a row by scheduling marketing activity, making a master plan and using a service like Hootsuite to get a chunk of your social media posting set out in advance. You’ll find that if you’re more strategic in your approach you’re far more likely to generate a great return on investment and be able to personalize what you do to your customers a lot more.

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Trial Testing Vaginal Ring, PrEP in Teens, Young Women

Vaginal ring and PrEP

Dapivirine vaginal ring and tablets of oral PrEP medication (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, NIH)

8 Feb. 2019. A clinical trial is underway testing use and preferences for drugs or a medical device to prevent HIV infection among young women and teenage girls in Africa. The trial, aiming for a highly vulnerable population for HIV infection in Africa, is conducted by Microbicide Trials Network in Pittsburgh, and funded by National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, or NIAID, and other institutes at National Institutes of Health.

According to Microbicide Trials Network, some 1,000 girls and young women age 15 to 24 in Africa are likely to become infected with HIV, with AIDS that can develop from HIV infection already the leading cause of death in this population. The group cites data from the UN agency for HIV and AIDS showing women comprise 26 percent of new HIV infections in eastern and southern Africa, while making up only 10 percent of the population.

The trial known as Reversing the Epidemic in Africa with Choices in HIV prevention, or Reach, is testing 2 complementary methods for preventing HIV infection among African women and girls, which Microbicide Trials Network says enrolled its first participant. The mid-stage clinical trial is recruiting 300 women and girls, age 16 to 21 in Uganda and Zimbabwe, but expanding to Kenya and South Africa.

All participants will receive a vaginal ring containing the drug dapivirine, a non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor that prevents HIV viruses from replicating inside healthy cells. Dapivirine vaginal rings work for 1 month releasing the drug in the vagina. The treatments are currently in review by the European Medicines Agency. Participants will also receive a daily tablet called Truvada, made by Gilead Sciences. Truvada is a combination of the anti-HIV drugs tenofovir and emtricitabine, a method known as pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP. Earlier trials show both techniques are effective in women, but not always followed sufficiently among teenage girls.

In the Reach trial participants are randomly assigned to first use the dapivirine ring for 6 months, followed by taking a daily Truvada pill for 6 months, or start with Truvada for 6 months, followed by using the vaginal ring for 6 months. Gilead Sciences is providing Truvada for the trial, while the International Partnership for Microbicides is providing the dapivirine ring. Participants are followed for 18 months after enrollment.

The Microbicide Trials Network team is looking primarily for signs of moderate or severe adverse effects from the treatments, as well as measures of detectable levels of drugs in participants’ blood and residual drug levels in returned vaginal rings during the 6 month test periods. The study team is also evaluating participants’ reactions to and preferences for the drugs or vaginal rings during this period, as well as detectable and residual drug levels in blood and vaginal rings after 18 months.

“With PrEP being made available in many countries and the possibility that the ring will be approved,” says Lulu Nair, protocol chair for the Reach study in a Microbicide Trials Network statement, “we want to see that these products can work for and be made available to women and girls of all ages at risk of HIV acquisition, who both need and deserve methods of protection that are in their control.” Nair is clinical research site leader at the Desmond Tutu HIV Centre at University of Cape Town in South Africa. Results of the trial are expected in late 2022 or 2023.

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Capsule Designed to Inject Insulin in Stomach Wall

Tanzanian leopard tortoise

Tanzanian leopard tortoise (photoboel, Pixabay)

8 Feb. 2019. A biomedical engineering team created a capsule that in animal tests releases a tiny needle delivering an insulin dose to the stomach lining, equivalent to conventional insulin injections. Researchers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge and drug maker Novo Nordisk in Copenhagen, Denmark describe the device and tests in today’s issue of the journal Science (paid subscription required).

People with diabetes need to regularly take insulin, usually as self-delivered injections under the skin. Diabetes is a chronic disorder where the pancreas does not create enough insulin to process the sugar glucose to flow into the blood stream and cells for energy in the body. In type 2 diabetes, which accounts for at least 90 percent of all diabetes cases, the pancreas produces some but not enough insulin, or the body cannot process insulin. According to the International Diabetes Federation, diabetes affects an estimated 425 million people worldwide, of which 46 million are in North America.

As an alternative to injections, researchers at MIT designed a capsule, small enough to be swallowed, but containing an insulin delivery system that works in the stomach. The team led by biomedical engineering and materials science professor Robert Langer and gastroenterologist Giovanni Traverso — now at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, but soon to join the MIT faculty — had to meet a number of challenges to create this device, starting with insulin’s large-molecule chemistry. Insulin on its own interacts with gastric juices in the stomach preventing it from reaching the blood stream in sufficient quantities to be effective, thus the need for direct injections of insulin.

The physical actions of the stomach also offer challenges for delivery of insulin, particularly thick mucous layers and muscular contractions making the stomach an unpredictable environment for reliable drug delivery. The authors note that earlier devices seeking to navigate this environment succeeded in delivering drugs with only about 1 percent bioavailability. But the thicker stomach wall, 4 to 6 millimeters, also offers more space and better protection than the intestine for drug delivery.

To deliver insulin reliably in the stomach, Langer, Traverso, and colleagues devised a device they call a self-orienting millimeter-scale applicator, or Soma. For the device’s physical shape, the team was inspired by the leopard tortoise found in Africa with a peaked shell over a flat and heavier lower body. With this shape and low center of gravity, the tortoise can easily right itself when upended. With this same principle, Soma devices land with the flat bottom on the stomach wall, despite being tossed and turned by stomach activity.

The next challenge was to deliver the insulin into the stomach wall. For this task, the researchers designed a tiny needle, 7 millimeters long, made of biodegradable polymers. The needle can hold up to 0.5 milligrams of concentrated insulin inside a cone-shaped, spring-activated delivery mechanism. That device is contained inside a coating of sugar that melts in the humid stomach environment in about 4 minutes. The mechanism is smaller than some medical devices approved by FDA to work in the stomach, allowing it to safely pass through the digestive tract. And the entire ingestible capsule is about the size of a blueberry.

The team first tested the Soma device in lab mice for toxicity, then gave the capsules to pigs, which have digestive systems and organs similar in size to humans, in this case in a fasted state. The device needles contained 0.3 milligrams of human insulin, which they safely delivered and released into the blood stream in about an hour. The pigs suffered hypoglycemia, or low blood glucose levels from the excess insulin in the experiments, but were rescued with dextrose. Endoscope examinations show the devices passed through the pigs without damaging their digestive tracts.

While the study was designed to prove the concept, researchers believe the results show a Soma device can be adapted for other biologic drugs, including proteins and nucleic acids. Novo Nordisk, a developer of diabetes drugs which helped fund the project, tells the New York Times it expects to begin clinical trials of Soma in about 3 years.

And as reported by Science & Enterprise just last month, Traverso is co-founder and a board member of Lyndra Therapeutics Inc. in Watertown, Massachusetts developing long-term drug delivery technologies for Alzheimer’s disease and psychiatric disorders. The following video tells more about the Soma device.

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Stronger and More Successful Business in Any Industry

– Contributed content –

Investor screen

(dawnfu, Pixabay)

8 Feb. 2019. When it comes to building a business, there’s a lot that you need to think about. It’s not easy launching and running a company that has a high potential for success; it’s not as simple as starting a business and letting nature take its course, there is a lot more to building a successful brand than that. Business is a complex industry; competition is high and the stakes unprecedented, which is why knowing how to make a success of your brand is so crucial.

Of course, understanding what it takes to do so is not always easy as there is a lot that you need to consider. Businesses take years to build up — ask any successful entrepreneur — but there are steps that you can take to give your business a better chance of success from the get-go.

Want to know what it takes to grow a highly successful business in any industry? Have a read of the tips and pieces of advice below. (The piece is split into general tips and advice and advice on investing in business software, as both areas are highly relevant and important for your business’s success.)

Steps to take

Invest in paid advertising

Many people make the mistake of thinking that smaller businesses don’t need paid advertising and that it’s an unworthwhile cost. However, the fact is that isn’t true. Paid advertising is actually more worthwhile for smaller brands than larger ones. However, the key is ensuring that you invest in the right paid advertising, as otherwise, your business’s success could suffer as a result.

One key area of advertising to invest in is digital advertising. The internet is a crucial aspect of marketing in 2019, which is why it should be the key area that you focus on, especially if you’re on a budget, as digital advertising tends to be far cheaper than more traditional means of marketing.

If you understand what areas of paid advertising you should be investing in, like PPC and Google Ads, for instance, then the use of paid advertising can be highly successful. It’s just a case of being clear about the route at which you’re going down.

Take advantage of online organic advertising

Not sure what exactly organic advertising is? Don’t panic, it’s far more straightforward than you would think. Social media is a form of organic advertising. It’s organic because it’s not paid for and promoted. You might hire someone to deal with your social media management, but it’s still an organic form of advertising, as the posts themselves aren’t being paid for. When it comes to hiring a social media specialist to manage your business’s social media channels, it’s essential that you look for someone who is experienced and knowledgeable within the sector.

Add a blog

The chances are that you have already got an incredible website, or if you don’t you need to invest in one, which means that all there is left to add is a blog. In today’s digital-focused world, every business needs a blog, which is why if your website doesn’t currently have a platform for one, you should look to create one.

Why is having a blog important? Not only will it help to build brand awareness and increase traffic to you website, but it will also give you an extra layer of content for you to share across your business’s social media channels.

One of the most important things to remember when it comes to building a blog on your business’s website is that the writing must be of a very high quality. It must also be properly SEO optimized and written in a professional way. If you are going to use your blog to grow your business, the blog content needs to be original, interesting and highly relevant to your business.

Ensure you have the right team on hand

When it comes to business success, it’s essential to ensure that you have the right team of people on hand to help you run your venture. You need to think carefully about what you need as a business owner, what your customers need, and what it will take for you to succeed within your specific industry.

What it’s essential that you do is take your customers’ needs seriously, and alwyas put them first. A pet hate that many people have is long waiting times on call backs and phone answering, so if you can invest in a service that prevents these waits, you will have happier and more content customers. Say, for instance, you run a legal firm, then you might want to look at using a legal answering service, so that you can keep your customers happy.

Software is key

Invest in software

If you are going to give your business the very best chance of success, it’s essential that you invest in the right software for your brand. When it comes to software investment, it’s crucial that you set aside a budget that allows your business to purchase all of the most essential software

It can be difficult at times knowing which piece of software to use, as there is such a wide range to choose from. It’s never easy singling out just one piece of software to select. It’s particularly difficult because naturally, you want to opt for the best option, which is where making a decision can become somewhat tricky.

If you’re unsure what software is necessary for your business type, take the time to undertake some research and see what you come across online. You should be able to find lots of great ideas for all of the best software types to implement.

It’s easier to manage customer relationships

A fantastic benefit of opting to invest in software for your business that will aid efficiency is the fact that it can help to make the process of managing your customer relationships simpler and easier, depending on the types of software that you invest in. The fact is that it’s not always easy to manage customer relationships, especially as your customer base grows.

That’s why implementing effective software that helps to manage those relationships can make life much simpler and more straightforward, as well as helping to boost your business’s long-term success.

Sales leads are easier to follow

An issue that a lot of business owners struggle with is following sales leads, which is where software comes in. Sales leads are another area of business that specialist business software can help you to manage more easily. What this software can do is automate your contacting processes, meaning that anyone who inputs their information into your pop-up form can be contacted more quickly and more easily. It’s little things like this that can make all the difference when it comes to a business’s success, and taking advantage of this kind of software can have a huge impact as a result.

What makes this software so useful for smaller businesses, in particular, is the fact that it is able to swiftly integrate every process. This means that when it comes to following up sales leads, it’s much simpler to do so. Far too many businesses use a combination of different software solutions for sales, marketing and project management. However, the answer to making it easier to run your business is to opt to use one fully integrated solution that is designed to work seamlessly throughout various sections of your business.

Timekeeping is simpler

Timekeeping is one aspect of business that many entrepreneurs struggle with, particularly when they take on team members. The fact is that in order to ensure that everyone is working effectively within their time at work, it’s important to ensure that you make timekeeping as simple as possible. What you need to do is make sure that each employee is able to clock in and clock out of work easily. That’s where software that incorporates team member timekeeping comes in, making life far simpler.

There are various types of software used by businesses, each offering support for a different range of tasks. The fact is that choosing the right sort of software can help a small business to grow in leaps and bounds, increasing efficiency and changing the way in which the whole company functions. That’s why investing in the right type of software is so vital, because the potential significance it can have is incredible.

Software can be used to complete all manner of tasks, making the running of any company – small or larger – far simpler and more efficient. In business, efficiency is key, because efficiency is closely linked to productivity, and when productivity levels are low it means that your business is paying employees to do jobs that they aren’t doing.

If you want to make every penny spent worthwhile, you need a team of highly productive team members who work hard and are reliable. Having effective software can help you to determine which team members increase business efficiency, and which are damaging it. Software is the key to business success, especially in terms of running a highly efficient business.

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Company to Stop Cancer Spread, Relapse Raises $60.8M

Cancer magnified

(PDPics, Pixabay)

7 February 2019. A new company formed to commercialize research that aims to prevent cancer from spreading or recurring is raising $60.75 million in its first venture financing. HiberCell, in New York, is a biotechnology spin-off enterprise from the Mount Sinai medical school, also in New York.

HiberCell is licensing research from the lab of Julio Aguirre-Ghiso, a professor at Mount Sinai in hematology, oncology, and head and neck cancer, also the company’s scientific founder. Aguirre-Ghiso’s lab studies the biology behind the metastasis or spread of cancer, as well as its recurrence after tumors are removed. Much of the group’s research is on dormant disseminated tumor cells that remain in the body, often undetected.

Despite advances in treating primary tumors, cancer recurrence and metastasis remains the main reason for for most cancer deaths. Aguirre-Ghiso notes in a company statement that “the unfortunate and painful truth is that relapsed or metastatic cancer still claims the lives of most people with cancer, even when their primary tumor has been successfully treated.”

HiberCell plans to develop diagnostics and therapeutics aimed at earlier detection and treatment of dormant disseminated tumor cells, which the company says is the first of its kind to take this approach. HiberCell, says co-founder and president Alan Rigby, will first better understand the genetics and transcription of dormant disseminated tumor cells, to develop treatments for tumor dormancy. Rigby adds, “We believe that this approach provides a differentiated opportunity to change the paradigm of cancer treatment.”

In HiberCell’s first venture funding round, the company is raising $60.75 million, led by life science venture investor ARCH Venture Partners in Chicago, joined by Celgene Corporation, the NYC Life Sciences Fund, and a number of undisclosed company and personal investors. NYC Life Sciences Fund backs early-stage enterprises spun-off from universities, research institutes, and medical centers in the city. The fund plans to invest $120 million in start-ups’ first funding rounds, with backing from Celgene and Eli Lilly & Company through 2020, focusing on therapeutics, medical devices, diagnostics, instrumentation, and digital life sciences technologies.

“HiberCell will build on the foundational biology that is in place,” says Aguirre-Ghiso, “by focusing on novel tools to better detect, isolate and annotate the survival mechanisms in these dormant disseminated tumor cells. By targeting these mechanisms with therapeutics, we believe it is possible to extend disease-free intervals and improve the chance of survival through lower rates of relapse and metastasis.”

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Large Molecule Library Enables On-Demand Drug Discovery

Analytics graphic

(xresch, Pixabay)

7 Feb. 2019. A large-scale public drug molecule library is shown with computational modeling to accurately identify on-demand new compounds that bind completely to therapy targets. A team from University of California in San Francisco, University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, and the medicinal chemistry company Enamine Ltd. in Kiev, Ukraine, with colleagues from labs in China and Latvia, published their findings in yesterday’s issue of the journal Nature (paid subscription required).

Researchers led by UC San Francisco pharmaceutical chemistry faculty Brian Shoichet and John Irwin, and UNC Chapel Hill pharmacology professor Bryan Roth, are seeking complete yet accessible sources of chemical molecules that can be analyzed and modeled with computational techniques against treatment targets. The authors say that up to now, public chemical molecule databases are limited in the number of entries or properties used to describe those entries.

The international team is particularly interested in the capability of drug molecules to dock or bind securely in three dimensions to biological therapy targets. Shoichet and Irwin established a public drug molecule database in 2005 known as ZINC that compiles chemical structures and properties in a standard format suitable for computational analysis and screening. A key interest of ZINC is binding properties to targets that make docking possible with proteins. In this case, size matters, with the larger the collection of molecules available, say the authors, the less likely the screening will return decoy, or biologically inactive, molecules.

Several commercial sources of drug molecules offer their collections to ZINC, but the contributions from Enamine Ltd., say the authors, are particularly important. Enamine provides customized synthetic drug compounds on demand, by screening its molecular library against customer treatment targets for discovering and producing new compounds that meet customer specifications. The company says over the past 10 years it discovered more than 1 billion compounds for customers with this process. At the time of publication, ZINC amassed 170 million chemical molecules, with the number of entries now at 750 million and expected to reach 1 billion by January 2020.

“Our platform can now screen 100 times more molecules than are available in most drug screening libraries, with far more diversity in the molecules screened. Soon it will be able to screen 1,000 times more,” says Irwin in a UC San Francisco statement. “People are going to have access to a lot of new chemistry that no one has looked at before.”

The researchers tested the ability of ZINC to screen for and identify the best docking molecules against 2 widely different treatment targets. The system screened its entries for activity against the AmpC beta-lactamase enzyme associated with bacterial resistance to antibiotics and D4 dopamine receptor, associated with a number of psychiatric disorders and addictive behavior. Screening and computational analysis with ZINC returned 44 compounds docking to AmpC beta-lactamase and 549 compounds docking to D4 dopamine receptors. Among the compounds identified were an entire class of AmpC beta-lactamase inhibitors that were previously not associated with this enzyme.

The identified compounds produced by Enamine were tested in lab cultures confirmed the compounds’ docking properties from the ZINC simulations. Among the new compounds tested, say the authors, are among the most powerful inhibitors of AmpC beta-lactamase and dopamine receptor agonists discovered.

“The D4-binding compounds identified from ZINC are among the most potent ever reported,” notes Roth. “This kind of rapid screening of millions of potential compounds is a major step toward creating better medications for many illnesses, and in the case of the D4 receptor, psychiatric conditions.”

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Guide to Promotional Products

Marker pens

(Alicja, Pixabay)

7 Feb. 2019. In the current day and age, it is becoming more and more important for businesses to find an effective marketing strategy which they can implement successfully. At the end of the day, people are being much more cautious with their money nowadays because of the terrible effects the recession has had on many families around the world. It may have been years ago, but it caused everyone to be more cautious with their cash.

Therefore, businesses need to be a lot more clever in the way they target these people. After all there are people who will still spend their cash it is just a case of pinpointing who these people are and appealing to them in an effective manner.

In this blog post, we will provide you with some more information on implementing a promotional product strategy. We will explain the benefits of this, as well as giving you some suggestions regarding the most effective promotional items for your business. So, let’s take a look…

Have you considered using promotional products as part of your marketing campaign?

One strategy which a lot of companies seem to be implementing and experiencing a lot of success with is the method of advertising through the utilization of business promotional products. This is a marketing option which has proved its success over many years now and so it is no surprise that companies are choosing to go with it at present. The advantages associated with this type of strategy is that it can be adapted to suit absolutely any type of business – no matter how big or small it is and no matter what industry it is placed in. Not only this, but it is easy to carry out and can be quite cost effective compared to other marketing strategies.

Nevertheless, the success of this strategy obviously lies within what business promotional products are chosen. The key is to go for something which will be cheap to produce and which will be utilised by individuals on a daily basis. These do not have to be anything which is over complicated or surprising. In fact the best promotional products tend to be simple, such as pens or mugs.

Promotional lanyards are a good option

One good option is to go for promotional lanyards. Check out lanyards from customlanyardscanada.com to see a good example. There are a whole host of advantages associated with utilizing their product for a marketing campaign. The first benefit in regards to promotional lanyards is that they are relatively low in cow when it comes to the manufacturing of them. In fact, when compared with other potential promotional products they are probably the cheapest. This is obviously highly important and advantageous because it means that there is less risk associated with the strategy because less capital is involved.

In addition to this, lanyards are practical. They are something which most people will need use of at some point or another so they will be appreciated by people. Moreover, a lanyard is something which will not only be seen by the person in possession of it but also all those that pass them by as well. Therefore, the scope for advertising is a lot bigger than may initially have been imagined.

You should also consider promotional pens for your business

One of the most successful types of product is promotional pens; there are a whole host of advantages associated with this item. First and foremost, it is a product which is relatively cheap to be made, especially in comparison to other promotional items. This is obviously something which is highly beneficial when bearing in mind the state of the economy at present, as mentioned earlier in the article. This also means that the strategy is a lot less risky than other promotional product based options.

However, the cheap price of promotional pens is not the only advantage associated with using them as a marketing strategy. They are also highly effective. This is because a pen is something an individual is likely to use each and every day. Therefore, the company name will become ingrained in the mind of the individual who uses it. This means that the next time they require the goods or the services of the company in question, they will not look online or on the Internet as they will instantly remember the company’s name on their pen and all they will need to do is fetch it in order to discover the number.

A final point worth noting is that whoever the individual in question uses the pen in front of will actually see the name and number of the company as well. As I’m sure most people know, pens tend to get passed around anyway and so it is likely that one pen will advertise to more than one person.

To conclude, it is not hard to see why using promotional pens and lanyards as part of an advertising product based strategy is an advisable and effective option. It is certainly something that a lot of businesses are using in order to capture the attention of potential customers. However, as discussed, the products you choose will dictate the success of this strategy. You need to think about your target audience and what is going to appeal to them the most.

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Univ. Spin-Off Developing High-Nutrition Corn

Evan Rocheford and corn

Evan Rocheford holds an ear of orange corn to compare with more common varieties in his other hand. (Purdue University)

6 Feb. 2019. A company spun-off from a university agriculture research lab is developing a variety of corn with more vitamin A and other nutrients missing from most other types. NutraMaize LLC in West Lafayette, Indiana is commercializing research by Torbert Rocheford, a professor of agriculture genomics at Purdue University, also in West Lafayette.

Rocheford’s lab at Purdue studies the genetic architecture of maize, the formal name for corn, to produce varieties with more nutritional value and other properties making this basic crop more valuable to growers and consumers. One of its projects is to boost the vitamin A content in corn with varieties containing carotenoids, that provide the dark orange and red pigments in some plants. But carotenoids contain vitamin A precursors beta-carotene and -cryptoxanthin, which provide anti-oxidants in the body as well.

Vitamin A deficiency is a condition that can lead to vision problems and according to World Health Organization is the main cause of preventable blindness, particularly in low income countries. It is considered a major public health problem in Africa and southeast Asia, affecting children and pregnant women, not only for vision problems, but also for increasing risks of severe infections. Lack of vitamin A can contribute as well to macular degeneration among the elderly, a condition leading as well to blindness.

WHO estimates 250 million preschool children worldwide are deficient in vitamin A, and between 250,000 and 500,000 children become blind each year because of vitamin A deficiency. The source of vitamin A is a healthy diet rich in carotenoids, but in Sub-Saharan Africa, white corn is a staple food that has minimal amounts of carotenoids.

As reported by Science & Enterprise in October 2014, Rocheford and colleagues from Purdue, Cornell, and Michigan State universities identified a few key genes that can increase ingredients in corn for building vitamin A in humans. And because these genes are already found in some corn varieties, new types of corn can be developed without transferring genes from other species. Rocheford’s lab works with the organization HarvestPlus that develops and promotes biofortified crops including carotenoid-boosted corn in developing regions.

A result of the lab’s research is a variety of corn with kernels deep orange in color. In 2015, Rocheford and his son Evan founded NutraMaize to commercialize carotenoid-fortified corn products in the U.S. “As the orange corn grew in popularity and demand overseas,” says Torbert Rocheford in a university statement, “I decided to grow some here and share it. The response was overwhelmingly positive. I had people tell me that the orange corn made the best grits and cornbread they had ever eaten.”

The commercialization process was helped along by a Small Business Technology Transfer award from National Science Foundation in 2017, with Evan Rocheford, NutraMaize’s CEO, as principal investigator. That $225,000 grant funded research and development of orange corn varieties with higher yields similar to those planted by American farmers. The research also aimed to develop varieties high in lutein and zeaxanthin, carotenoids associated with prevention of age-related macular degeneration.

NutraMaize sells its milled corn products, such as grits and polenta, directly to consumers under the brand-name Professor Torbert’s Orange Corn. In the following video, the Rochefords tell more about orange corn.

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Brain Tissue Model Devised for Cancer Drug Testing

Mini-brain spheroid

Mini-brain spheroid model (MicroMatrices Associates)

6 Feb. 2019. A three-dimensional brain tissue model, including a patient’s tumor cells, shows in lab tests an ability to test current and experimental cancer drugs. A team from the company MicroMatrices Associates Ltd. in Dundee, Scotland, U.K. as well as academic researchers describe the device and tests in yesterday’s issue of the journal Scientific Reports.

The researchers led by MicroMatrices founder and managing director Simon Plummer are seeking faster, more reliable, and personalized methods for testing prospective treatments for glioblastoma and other cancers in the brain. Most preclinical drug research uses animals for both safety and efficacy testing, which according to the authors is hampered by a low correlation between animal and human physiology. In this study, the researchers assess a human brain tissue model that takes advantage of advances in stem cells and microfluidics, or lab-on-a-chip, technologies as a substitute for animal testing.

The MicroMatrices system uses collections of cells formed into spheroid micro tissue arrays that the company calls SpheroMatrices. These collections contain different types of cells, including in this case neurons or nerve cells from the brain, with supporting glial and astrocyte cells called BrainSpheres. Cells in the model are derived from induced pluripotent or adult stem cells, and grown into small 3-D spheres known as organoids. A recent study by many of the same authors shows BrainSpheres can be produced in large numbers and consistent quality to test drugs for toxicity to nerve cells.

Plummer and colleagues extended their BrainSphere technology to gauge the efficacy of drugs for treating glioblastoma, a form of brain cancer. Glioblastoma is an aggressive cancer that affects astrocyte or glial cells supporting neurons in the brain. The disease is often difficult to treat, where usually the best hope is to slow its progression with radiation or chemotherapy. Survival from initial tumors is typically 20 months and those with recurring glioblastoma usually survive for less than a year.

In this case, the researchers added glioblastoma tumor cells from a patient with the disease to the BrainSphere organoids. With these tools, the team tested two drugs for treating glioblastoma. Temozolomide is a current drug approved for glioblastoma, taken as a capsule after surgery to remove the tumor or radiation treatment. The authors note that in some patients, resistance to temozolomide develops that limits the drug’s effectiveness. The other drug, doxorubicin, is currently approved for some blood-related and soft-tissue cancers, but not glioblastoma. In lab tests, however, doxorubicin shows promise against glioblastoma cells.

The tests show untreated glioblastoma tumor cells in the BrainSpheres grew in size for 4 weeks on SpheroMatrices platform. When treated with temozolomide, the tumors reduced in size by about 30 percent. Treatments with doxorubicin, however, resulted in about an 80 percent reduction in tumor size. In both cases, tumor cells were killed after the exposure to the drugs, while the number of non-cancerous brain cells remained unchanged. The researchers conclude BrainSpheres and SpheroMatrices are a feasible cancer drug testing technology, not only for drug discovery, but also for testing prospective treatments with a patient’s own tumor cells.

Among the paper’s authors are Thomas Hartung, a professor of environmental health and engineering at the Johns Hopkins University school of public health in Baltimore and David Pamies, a postdoctoral researcher at Johns Hopkins. Hartung and Pamies are listed as inventors on a patent for mini-brain organoids, and Hartung founded the company Organome LLC in Baltimore to commercialize the technology.

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