Marmosets may help humans fight deadly coronavirus

first_imgAn animal model that closely mimics a disease in humans gives a huge boost to researchers attempting to combat it. But those developed to date for Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), which has caused nearly 900 cases of disease in humans since emerging in Saudi Arabia in 2012 and has killed about one-third of these people, all have serious shortcomings. Although the virus is thought to jump into humans from camels, it’s still unclear whether it causes illnesses in dromedaries. (Besides, camels aren’t exactly known to be cooperative lab animals.) And rhesus macaques, arguably the best model yet developed, rarely develop severe or lethal cases of the disease like humans do. Now, researchers who helped developed the rhesus model think they may have found a much better one: marmosets. They have evidence that MERS-CoV behaves much the same way in these New World monkeys as it does in humans: copying itself to high levels, spreading widely through the lungs, and causing life-threatening pneumonia. What’s more, marmosets and humans have identical amino acids in a critical region of the receptor that MERS-CoV uses to infect cells, they report today in PLOS Pathogens. The development of the marmoset model could have a “major impact” in the search for drugs and vaccines against MERS-CoV, the scientists say.last_img read more

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US agencies clash over who should regulate genetically engineered livestock

first_img USDA/Scott Bauer Originally published by E&E News.A disease that kills millions of pigs a year may soon meet its match — if two federal agencies can agree on the idea.Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus is one of the latest examples of a condition that scientists believe they can beat with genetic engineering, and one that’s caught up in a disagreement between the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) over how quickly such methods should be approved, and by whom. I love bacon, but I don’t know that I’m addicted to it, or it’s a drug. It sounds bizarre to me. Representative David Young (R–IA) Email Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country By Marc Heller, E&E NewsApr. 19, 2018 , 2:25 PMcenter_img A virus that causes illness in pigs could be a target of genetic modification. On one side: FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, whose agency regulates genetically engineered food similarly to a drug. On the other: Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, pushing for faster approvals of a wide range of biotechnology that could block animal diseases and help cows produce more milk, among other benefits.”I think Dr. Gottlieb and I have disagreed about FDA’s position on that,” Perdue said yesterday at a U.S. House of Representatives agriculture appropriations subcommittee hearing.Perdue said he worries that FDA’s regulations on biotech animals could stifle innovation and slow the introduction of animals that could be more productive or resistant to diseases without the use of drugs or hormones. USDA already allows genetic engineering in plants, and Perdue said he sees livestock in a similar way.In its draft guidance, FDA said prior authorization is necessary before introducing any food from such livestock into the food supply. The agency would review any possible health risks, according to the guidance. Authorization would also be needed before shipping any such animals, FDA said.The work on the pig virus is the first step of a partnership between Caribou Biosciences Inc. and Genus PLC, which last year announced a four-year research project that could be extended for an additional three years. Caribou is based in Berkeley, California, and Genus is based in the United Kingdom.Scientists can inactivate a single gene in the pig to stop production of a protein the virus needs to survive, according to the companies. That practice—called gene editing—doesn’t involve inserting genes from another species and isn’t the same as genetic modification.The virus didn’t come up at the hearing, but pigs did, thanks to Rep. David Young (R-IA), whose state leads the country in hog production.Young took issue with FDA’s position that biotech animals should be regulated similarly to drugs, which he called an “onerous” approach.”I love bacon, but I don’t know that I’m addicted to it, or it’s a drug,” Young said. “It sounds bizarre to me.”Advocates for biotechnology say the regulatory regime may put too much restriction on methods that fall short of genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.”Perhaps that system doesn’t work so well,” said Karen Batra, a spokeswoman for the Biotechnology Innovation Organization. “There’s a lot of confusion in the process. It takes an amazing amount of time.”The system might work better, Batra said, if gene editing weren’t regulated like a drug, as GMOs are.The fight over biotech livestock plays out in Congress, as well, where Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) has led a fight against genetically modified salmon, fearing they could undermine the fishing industry in her state (Greenwire, May 19, 2016). U.S. agencies clash over who should regulate genetically engineered livestock Read more… Some lawmakers, including Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL), have called for switching jurisdiction from FDA to USDA. But USDA doesn’t have regulations written to handle biotech livestock, said Jaydee Hanson, a senior policy analyst at the Center for Food Safety in Washington, D.C., an organization critical of genetic engineering.”They’re saying, ‘We don’t have any regulation, so we’re not going to regulate it,'” Hanson said.Among other measures, the government should require a complete sequencing of the genome for any genetically tweaked animal that might enter the food supply, Hanson said.The issue is likely to be debated in the 2018 farm bill. At a markup yesterday of the House Agriculture Committee’s farm bill, Yoho offered, then withdrew, an amendment requiring a report on moving jurisdiction to USDA.Reprinted from Greenwire with permission from E&E News. Copyright 2018. E&E provides essential news for energy and environment professionals at www.eenews.net Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*)last_img read more

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