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BioTech, Volume 10, Issue 3 (September 2021) – 10 articles

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Article
Increasing the High Throughput of a Luminescence-Based Serum Bactericidal Assay (L-SBA)
BioTech 2021, 10(3), 19; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/biotech10030019 (registering DOI) - 18 Sep 2021
Viewed by 258
Abstract
Serum bactericidal assay (SBA) is the method to investigate in vitro complement-mediated bactericidal activity of sera raised upon vaccination. The assay is based on incubating the target bacteria and exogenous complement with sera at different dilutions and the result of the assay is [...] Read more.
Serum bactericidal assay (SBA) is the method to investigate in vitro complement-mediated bactericidal activity of sera raised upon vaccination. The assay is based on incubating the target bacteria and exogenous complement with sera at different dilutions and the result of the assay is represented by the sera dilution being able to kill 50% of bacteria present in the inoculum. The traditional readout of the assay is based on measurement of colony-forming units (CFU) obtained after plating different reaction mixes on agar. This readout is at low throughput and time consuming, even when automated counting is used. We previously described a novel assay with a luminescence readout (L-SBA) based on measurement of ATP released by live bacteria, which allowed to substantially increase the throughput as well as to reduce the time necessary to perform the assay when compared to traditional methods. Here we present a further improvement of the assay by moving from a 96-well to a 384-well format, which allowed us to further increase the throughput and substantially reduce costs while maintaining the high performance of the previously described L-SBA method. The method has been successfully applied to a variety of different pathogens. Full article
Article
Impact of Ethyl Methane Sulphonate Mutagenesis in Artemisia vulgaris L. under NaCl Stress
BioTech 2021, 10(3), 18; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/biotech10030018 - 21 Aug 2021
Viewed by 384
Abstract
The present investigation aimed to obtain salt-tolerant Artemisia vulgaris L. to develop a constant form through in vitro mutagenesis with ethyl methane sulphonate (EMS) as the chemical mutagen. NaCl tolerance was evaluated by the ability of the callus to maintain its growth under [...] Read more.
The present investigation aimed to obtain salt-tolerant Artemisia vulgaris L. to develop a constant form through in vitro mutagenesis with ethyl methane sulphonate (EMS) as the chemical mutagen. NaCl tolerance was evaluated by the ability of the callus to maintain its growth under different concentrations, ranges from (0 mM to 500 mM). However, NaCl salinity concentration at (500 mM) did not show any development of callus, slight shrinking, and brown discoloration taking place over a week. Thus, all the biochemical and antioxidant assays were limited to (0–400 mM) NaCl. On the other hand, selected calluses were treated with 0.5% EMS for 30, 60, and 90 min and further subcultured on basal media fortified with different concentrations of 0–400 mM NaCl separately. Thus, the callus was treated for 60 min and was found to induce the mutation on the callus. The maximum salt-tolerant callus from 400 mM NaCl was regenerated in MS medium fortified with suitable hormones. Biochemical parameters such as chlorophyll, carotenoids, starch, amino acids, and phenol contents decreased under NaCl stress, whereas sugar and proline increased. Peroxidase (POD) and superoxide dismutase (SOD) activities peaked at 200 mM NaCl, whereas catalase (CAT) was maximum at 100 mM NaCl. Enhanced tolerance of 0.5% the EMS-treated callus, attributed to the increased biochemical and antioxidant activity over the control and NaCl stress. As a result, the mutants were more tolerant of salinity than the control plants. Full article
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Review
Calculation of Fetal Fraction for Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing
BioTech 2021, 10(3), 17; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/biotech10030017 - 09 Aug 2021
Viewed by 349
Abstract
Estimating the fetal fraction of DNA in a pregnant mother’s blood is a risk-free, non-invasive way of predicting fetal aneuploidy. It is a rapidly developing field of study, offering researchers a plethora of different complementary methods. Such methods include examining the differences in [...] Read more.
Estimating the fetal fraction of DNA in a pregnant mother’s blood is a risk-free, non-invasive way of predicting fetal aneuploidy. It is a rapidly developing field of study, offering researchers a plethora of different complementary methods. Such methods include examining the differences in methylation profiles between the fetus and the mother. Others include calculating the average allele frequency based on the difference in genotype of a number of single-nucleotide polymorphisms. Differences in the length distribution of DNA fragments between the mother and the fetus as well as measuring the proportion of DNA reads mapping to the Y chromosome also constitute fetal fraction estimation methods. The advantages and disadvantages of each of these main method types are discussed. Moreover, several well-known fetal fraction estimation methods, such as SeqFF, are described and compared with other methods. These methods are amenable to not only the estimation of fetal fraction but also paternity, cancer, and transplantation monitoring studies. NIPT is safe, and should aneuploidy be detected, this information can help parents prepare mentally and emotionally for the birth of a special needs child. Full article
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Article
Synthetic Biology: Old and New Dilemmas—The Case of Artificial Life
BioTech 2021, 10(3), 16; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/biotech10030016 - 20 Jul 2021
Viewed by 761
Abstract
This article aims to examine some of the ethical questions emerging from the use of already existing biotechnological tools and the issues which might occur by synthetic biology’s potential future possibilities. In the first part, the essence of synthetic biology and its relation [...] Read more.
This article aims to examine some of the ethical questions emerging from the use of already existing biotechnological tools and the issues which might occur by synthetic biology’s potential future possibilities. In the first part, the essence of synthetic biology and its relation to the contemporary biotechnological research is analyzed. In the second part, the article examines whether the new biotechnological inventions pose new or revive old moral questions about the ethics of science, engineering, and technology in general. After briefly addressing some of the various issues which are raised by experts, philosophers, but also the general public, concerning synthetic biology in general, it focuses on the topic of “artificial life creation” and presents moral reasons which may or may not allow it. The topic is approached by referring to consequentialist, deontological, but also, virtue theory arguments for and against it and the possibility of a partial permission of “artificial life” experiments, asking whether the benefits outweigh the risks and moral implications is explored. Finally, it proposes an argument in favor of the future exploration of biological innovation, underlying the need for a more balanced access to its beneficial results. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biotechnology and Bioethics)
Article
Artificial Intelligence in Biomedicine: A Legal Insight
BioTech 2021, 10(3), 15; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/biotech10030015 - 14 Jul 2021
Viewed by 420
Abstract
The involvement of artificial intelligence in biomedicine promises better support for decision-making both in conventional and research medical practice. Yet two important issues emerge in relation to personal data handling, and the influence of AI on patient/doctor relationships. The development of AI algorithms [...] Read more.
The involvement of artificial intelligence in biomedicine promises better support for decision-making both in conventional and research medical practice. Yet two important issues emerge in relation to personal data handling, and the influence of AI on patient/doctor relationships. The development of AI algorithms presupposes extensive processing of big data in biobanks, for which procedures of compliance with data protection need to be ensured. This article addresses this problem in the framework of the EU legislation (GDPR) and explains the legal prerequisites pertinent to various categories of health data. Furthermore, the self-learning systems of AI may affect the fulfillment of medical duties, particularly if the attending physicians rely on unsupervised applications operating beyond their direct control. The article argues that the patient informed consent prerequisite plays a key role here, not only in conventional medical acts but also in clinical research procedures. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biotechnology and Bioethics)
Review
Applications of CRISPR-Cas9 as an Advanced Genome Editing System in Life Sciences
BioTech 2021, 10(3), 14; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/biotech10030014 - 06 Jul 2021
Viewed by 648
Abstract
Targeted nucleases are powerful genomic tools to precisely change the target genome of living cells, controlling functional genes with high exactness. The clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats associated protein 9 (CRISPR-Cas9) genome editing system has been identified as one of the most [...] Read more.
Targeted nucleases are powerful genomic tools to precisely change the target genome of living cells, controlling functional genes with high exactness. The clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats associated protein 9 (CRISPR-Cas9) genome editing system has been identified as one of the most useful biological tools in genetic engineering that is taken from adaptive immune strategies for bacteria. In recent years, this system has made significant progress and it has been widely used in genome editing to create gene knock-ins, knock-outs, and point mutations. This paper summarizes the application of this system in various biological sciences, including medicine, plant science, and animal breeding. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biomarkers in the "Omics" Era)
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Article
New Challenges for Biobanks: Accreditation to the New ISO 20387:2018 Standard Specific for Biobanks
BioTech 2021, 10(3), 13; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/biotech10030013 - 02 Jul 2021
Viewed by 413
Abstract
Background: The emergence of “multi-omics” and “multi-parametric” types of analysis based on a high number of biospecimens enforces the use of a great number of high-quality “Biological Materials and Associated Data” (BMaD). To meet the demands of biomedical research, several Biological Resource Centers [...] Read more.
Background: The emergence of “multi-omics” and “multi-parametric” types of analysis based on a high number of biospecimens enforces the use of a great number of high-quality “Biological Materials and Associated Data” (BMaD). To meet the demands of biomedical research, several Biological Resource Centers (BRCs) or Biobanks world-wide have implemented a specific Quality Management System (QMS) certified ISO 9001:2015 or accredited by CAP9 ISO 20387:2018. For the first time, ISO, with the support of several Biobanking experts, issued the ISO 20387:2018 which is the first ISO norm specific for Biobanks. The fundamental difference with present certification/accreditation standards is that the ISO 20387:2018 focuses not only on the operational aspects of the Biobank, but also on the “competence of the Biobank to carry our specific Biobanking tasks”. Methods: The accreditation process for ISO 20387:2018 required the definition of: (1) objectives, goals and organizational structure of the Biobank, including procedures for governance, confidentiality and impartiality policies; (2) standard operating procedures (SOPs) of all activities performed, including acquisition, analysis, collection, data management, distribution, preparation, preservation, testing facility and equipment maintenance, calibration, and monitoring; (3) procedures for control of documents and records, the identification of risks and opportunities, improvements, corrective actions, nonconforming records and evaluation of external providers (4) an internal audit and management reviews, verification of QMS performance, monitoring of quality objectives and personnel qualification and competency in carrying out specific Biobanking tasks. Results: The accreditation process is performed by an independent authorized organization which certifies that all processes are performed according to the QMS, and that the infrastructure is engineered and managed according to the GDP and/or GMP guidelines. Conclusion: Accreditation is given by an accreditation body, which recognizes formally that the Biobank is “competent to carry out specific Biobanking tasks”. Full article
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Article
Ethical Challenges in Organoid Use
BioTech 2021, 10(3), 12; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/biotech10030012 - 28 Jun 2021
Viewed by 850
Abstract
Organoids hold great promises for numerous applications in biomedicine and biotechnology. Despite its potential in science, organoid technology poses complex ethical challenges that may hinder any future benefits for patients and society. This study aims to analyze the multifaceted ethical issues raised by [...] Read more.
Organoids hold great promises for numerous applications in biomedicine and biotechnology. Despite its potential in science, organoid technology poses complex ethical challenges that may hinder any future benefits for patients and society. This study aims to analyze the multifaceted ethical issues raised by organoids and recommend measures that must be taken at various levels to ensure the ethical use and application of this technology. Organoid technology raises several serious ethics issues related to the source of stem cells for organoid creation, informed consent and privacy of cell donors, the moral and legal status of organoids, the potential acquisition of human “characteristics or qualities”, use of gene editing, creation of chimeras, organoid transplantation, commercialization and patentability, issues of equity in the resulting treatments, potential misuse and dual use issues and long-term storage in biobanks. Existing guidelines and regulatory frameworks that are applicable to organoids are also discussed. It is concluded that despite the serious ethical challenges posed by organoid use and biobanking, we have a moral obligation to support organoid research and ensure that we do not lose any of the potential benefits that organoids offer. In this direction, a four-step approach is recommended, which includes existing regulations and guidelines, special regulatory provisions that may be needed, public engagement and continuous monitoring of the rapid advancements in the field. This approach may help maximize the biomedical and social benefits of organoid technology and contribute to future governance models in organoid technology. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biotechnology and Bioethics)
Opinion
Treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis with Gene Therapy Applications: Biosafety and Bioethical Considerations
BioTech 2021, 10(3), 11; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/biotech10030011 - 23 Jun 2021
Viewed by 477
Abstract
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune and inflammatory disease that affects the synovium (lining that surrounds the joints), causing the immune system to attack its own healthy tissues. Treatment options, to the current day, have serious limitations and merely offer short-term alleviation to [...] Read more.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune and inflammatory disease that affects the synovium (lining that surrounds the joints), causing the immune system to attack its own healthy tissues. Treatment options, to the current day, have serious limitations and merely offer short-term alleviation to the pain. Using a theoretical exercise based on literature, a new potentially viable therapy has been proposed. The new therapy focusses on a long-term treatment of RA based on gene therapy, which is only active when inflammation of the joint occurs. This treatment will prevent side effects of systemic application of drugs. Furthermore, the benefits of this treatment for the patient from a socio-economic perspective has been discussed, focusing on the quality of life of the patent and lower costs for the society. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biotechnology and Bioethics)
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Review
Biosafety of Genome Editing Applications in Plant Breeding: Considerations for a Focused Case-Specific Risk Assessment in the EU
BioTech 2021, 10(3), 10; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/biotech10030010 - 22 Jun 2021
Viewed by 1253
Abstract
An intensely debated question is whether or how a mandatory environmental risk assessment (ERA) should be conducted for plants obtained through novel genomic techniques, including genome editing (GE). Some countries have already exempted certain types of GE applications from their regulations addressing genetically [...] Read more.
An intensely debated question is whether or how a mandatory environmental risk assessment (ERA) should be conducted for plants obtained through novel genomic techniques, including genome editing (GE). Some countries have already exempted certain types of GE applications from their regulations addressing genetically modified organisms (GMOs). In the European Union, the European Court of Justice confirmed in 2018 that plants developed by novel genomic techniques for directed mutagenesis are regulated as GMOs. Thus, they have to undergo an ERA prior to deliberate release or being placed on the market. Recently, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) published two opinions on the relevance of the current EU ERA framework for GM plants obtained through novel genomic techniques (NGTs). Regarding GE plants, the opinions confirmed that the existing ERA framework is suitable in general and that the current ERA requirements need to be applied in a case specific manner. Since EFSA did not provide further guidance, this review addresses a couple of issues relevant for the case-specific assessment of GE plants. We discuss the suitability of general denominators of risk/safety and address characteristics of GE plants which require particular assessment approaches. We suggest integrating the following two sets of considerations into the ERA: considerations related to the traits developed by GE and considerations addressing the assessment of method-related unintended effects, e.g., due to off-target modifications. In conclusion, we recommend that further specific guidance for the ERA and monitoring should be developed to facilitate a focused assessment approach for GE plants. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biotechnology and Bioethics)
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