Biotech advancement has become impressive and has started to touch millions of lives slowly. Here is a list of 5 most impressive achievements that biotech has done, which include methods to watch translation in cells, trace cell fates, avoid mitochondrial mutations, edit DNA, and build antibiotics from scratch.
1. Cell-lineage mappers
There are several groups trying to answer long-standing questions about the origins of various cell types by different approaches. Techniques like CRISPR-Cas9 and isolation of transcriptomics are gaining popularity.
GESTALT is a technique that inserts synthetic barcodes into a zebrafish embryo and marks the barcodes with mutations. This can be applied for the study of the development of cells, tumor formation. It is said that it can help to unravel any process which involves cell division.
2. Antibiotic building blocks
Scientists have built more than 300 new antibiotics using a technique they developed by using eight chemical building blocks. This has made it relatively easy for synthesizing antibiotics such as erythromycin from scratch.
Lab studies have shown that some of these compounds killed bacteria effectively, which includes some microbes resistant to existing antibiotics. Even though it is impossible to know whether or not it will be generated in the clinic, it is a significant step forward for regaining an upper hand against drug-resistant infections.
3. Mitochondrial replacement therapy
Also known as three-parent baby, this technique is gaining heights due to its benefits. This technique helps to fertilize embryos without bringing along damaging mutations from the mother’s mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). A biotech company based in the UK used “pronuclear transfer,” which moves both sperm and pronuclei from a recently fertilized human egg into a nucleus-free donor bearing healthy mitochondria.
Secondly, there is another method called meiotic spindle transfer, which moves nuclear DNA from the mother’s egg to an enucleated donor cell and then fertilizes it. This process demonstrates the effective replacement of mutant mtDNA in oocytes by spindle transfer, the feasibility of in vitro fertilization, and the generation of healthy blastocytes and differentiated cells properly.
4. Translation trackers
Numerous companies have come up with protocols for observing the birth of proteins as it happens. They have come up with a tool, known as SunTag, that fluorescently lights up proteins engineered to contain a particular epitope. Scientists have combined SunTag with loops built into the proteins’ corresponding messenger RNAs, that are also fluorescently tagged. This process provides insights and answers to questions that would not have been possible by biochemical means.
5. CRISPR with fewer cuts
By engineering on CRISPR Cas9, scientists have figured out a nice way to trick the cell into preferring pathways that it would normally not prefer.
During double-stranded DNA break repair, many things are going on at once, and sometimes nucleotides are deleted and inserted or mutated in a way that is out of our control. The mutation rate (by using CRISPR) becomes less than 10-fold higher compared to the natural background mutation rate.