Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

iBio/BRU Molecular Farming Workshop

30 October, 2017

iBio/BRU Molecular Farming Workshop Press Release – South Africa

 

iBio Inc and the University of Cape Town’s Biopharming Research Unit (BRU) announce a Molecular Farming Workshop to be held in Franschhoek in the Western Cape of South Africa, on November 3rd and 4th, 2017. The workshop will bring together public and private entities driving biologics production and human and animal healthcare in South Africa for the purpose of establishing a plant-based biopharmaceutical manufacturing capability in South Africa. The expected output of the conference is a plan for the funding, technology transfer, facility construction and production of a pipeline of products specifically developed for the plant-made pharmaceutical platform.   The conference will be co-chaired by Professor Ed Rybicki, Director of the BRU, and Dr. Barry Holtz, President, iBio CDMO in Bryan, Texas

iBio, Inc wishes to extend its empowerment business model to South Africa. iBio is currently working with Biomanguinhos/Fiocruz in Brazil to develop a plant-made biopharmaceutical platform in Brazil with a yellow fever virus subunit vaccine as the lead product. iBio will offer a complete empowerment package to a Public-Private Partnership in South Africa that includes their proprietary expression system, early-stage product and process development and design-build expertise to design and construct a facility in South Africa that mimics the iBio CDMO large-scale biopharmaceutical facility in Bryan, Texas. iBio would then train the South African production team at their facility in Texas, and transfer the quality system for each new product. Dr. Holtz stated that “to bring a manufacturing empowerment model to South Africa is the logical extension of our ongoing relationship with South African companies and universities, and our experience in Brazil.”

The University of Cape Town’s BRU, led by Prof. Rybicki, has developed a pipeline of protein-based reagents and biotherapeutic products using a transient plant expression system. Vaccine development efforts focus on human papillomaviruses, Rift Valley fever and Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever viruses, and animal vaccines including bluetongue virus and African horse sickness virus.   Professor Rybicki commented that “The BRU and others in South Africa have developed a pipeline of protein-based biologics candidates using the plant-made platform that are relevant to the African continent and potential export markets. It is now necessary to bring experienced biotherapeutics manufacturing to South Africa to further develop these products, and we look forward to partnering with iBio to facilitate this.”

The conference brings together leaders from public agencies, academic institutions, parastatals, private companies, regulators and private capital to map out concrete steps to establish the plant-based manufacturing platform in South Africa. The Department of Science and Technology (DST) leads a broad science and technology innovation effort including of advanced health care products to create socio-economic opportunities.   The Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) is an active funder of human and animal health care initiatives in South Africa.     The Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) is a primary developer of manufacturing capacity and has important initiatives in biotechnology. Other participating agencies include the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), with its own molecular farming pipeline, and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

AzarGen Biotechnologies is a private South African biotechnology company will be part of the private sector representation. AzarGen, primarily funded by the IDC, has worked with iBio for the last three years to develop biotherapeutics that include surfactin for infant respiratory distress syndrome and a biobetter rituximab monoclonal antibody for the treatment of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and certain autoimmune diseases. The BioVac Institute and Onderstepoort Biologicals, manufacturers of human and animal vaccine products respectively, will also present. ENSafrica will speak to Intellectual Asset Management and Cape Venture Partners will overview the private capital opportunities in South Africa. Technology Innovation Group, a US based consulting group, will talk about the structure of successful public/private partnerships.

The conference keynote speech will be delivered by Dr. Gerald Parker, Associate Dean for Global One Health at the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Texas A & M University. Dr. Parker recently chaired the the 3rd Annual Global Pandemic Summit and is a world expert on global infectious disease. Dr. Parker held senior executive level positions at the US Department of Homeland Security and the US Department of Defense, serving as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Chemical and Biological Defense. South African stakeholders such as the BRU and the CSIR will also describe their existing and proposed products, and their potential for changing the biopharmaceuticals landscape in South Africa.

The explicit goal of the conference is to develop and action plan that will result in a public-private sector sponsored biomanufacturing capability in South Africa that can move a focused and affordable pipeline of drugs forward to licensure for South Africa and the continent. The organizers are confident that the participants represent the critical mass needed to make this happen.

Professor Ed Rybicki

Director, Biopharming Research Unit
University of Cape Town
For release   30th October 2017

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How papillomaviruses infect cells

28 February, 2017

We are presently hosting the 2017 Human Papillomaviirus Conference here in Cape Town, and we are experimenting with having a pre-conference Basic Science Workshop, in addition to the well-established Public Health and Clinical streams.

And it’s going…really well! We have a huge room for it, with double screens; it’s pretty full – and the kick-off was a masterful talk on HPV Entry by Michelle Ozbun.

She had a wonderfully illustrated close to 90 minute talk, with some very intriguing speculations: the theme of the Workshop is “Where Are The Gaps?”, and she pointed out a number of important gaps in our knowledge of the processes that  PVs engage with in order to get into cells.

One of the most intriguing was the fact that pseudo- or quasivirions made in and puriffied from mammalian cells, are not very infectious at all in keratinocyte raft cultures – which Martin Sapp pointed out from the audience can be hugely improved by using virions associated with cell matrix material rather than purified forms.

Michelle speculated that the natural state for PVs infecting susceptible cells – which most often probably occurs via transient wounding of cornified epithelia or mucous membranes – is in the context of squames, or exfoliated and disintegrating cells. Which means virions are associated with all of the molecules present in such a milieu, that may also serve as receptors – meaning that the virions may in fact be primed in terms of conformational changes associated with receptor binding, which could greatly facilitate binding of basal layer cells and entry into them.

How sensible is that as a concept: the natural milieu for PVs to infect other cells is in the context of debris from the cells in which they were produced.

I’m learning things by the minute B-) Michelle had a very useful set of questions (see below).

Other gaps for discussion will be posted later. #HPV2017

TIJoCV honours World Hepatitis Day

28 July, 2016

IJoCV.2

Graphics by Ian Mackay and Susan Nasif.

A word from the Comics Editor

26 July, 2016

_2__Twitter___Mentions


Renaissance Virology Comics: Get the Facts with Virology Comics!

#VirologyComics (Every Tuesday)

 “The exponential increase in health-related online platforms has made the Internet one of the main sources of health information worldwide. However, online communities with greater freedom of speech have, regretfully, become a powerful platform for anti-vaccine voices and the sharing of defective medical information. Health communicators have not yet taken their responsibilities on digital media as seriously as it should be.” (quoted with a few additions)

Therefore, the main objective of Virology Comics, the winner of the Science Hero Award in 2015, is to raise public awareness, inform readers about routes to prevent the transmission of viral diseases, and to provide basic knowledge and teaching tools for health professionals and educators in an easy, enjoyable, inspirational, and informative way.

Virology Comics’ dream is big, its ability is massive and its greatest strength is determination. We realize that dreams do not become realities without sweat and hard work, but we also know that getting the significant interest & support of like-minded and generous individuals makes a huge difference. I hasten to say that I am not only an artist, but also an artist with a medical background (Ph.D. in Virology). This is a rare combination, which only adds to the uniqueness of my work.

If you enjoy this material, I ask that you consider supporting it: cartooning is expensive, unfortunately, and we need all the resources we can get!  If interested, you can click on the link to the Patreon site to provide a regular monthly financial contribution of as little as $6:  https://www.patreon.com/VirologyComics

I would like you to enjoy, via the Internet Journal of Comprehensive Virology’s site, the outstanding story of Zika Virus Comics straight from The Lancet, published some time ago, and ask you to remain in the loop for more episodes! Learn, Share & Enjoy!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gWjiWUNoNQU

Thank you very much.

Susan Nasif, Ph.D.

Why did you access ViroBlogy today?

25 July, 2016

Protection of Cattle against Rinderpest by Vaccination with Wild-Type Peste des Petits Ruminants Virus

30 April, 2016

Although rinderpest virus (RPV) has been eradicated in the wild, efforts are still continuing to restrict the extent to which live virus is distributed in facilities around the world and to prepare for any reappearance of the disease, whether through deliberate or accidental release. In an effort to find an alternative vaccine which could be used in place of the traditional live attenuated RPV strains, we have determined whether cattle can be protected from rinderpest by inoculation with vaccine strains of the related morbillivirus, peste des petits ruminants virus (PPRV). Cattle were vaccinated with wild-type PPRV or either of two established PPRV vaccine strains, Nigeria/75/1 or Sungri/96. All animals developed antibody and T cell immune responses to the inoculated PPRV. However, only the animals given wild-type PPRV were protected from RPV challenge. Animals given PPRV/Sungri/96 were only partially protected, and animals given PPRV/Nigeria/75/1 showed no protection against RPV challenge. While sera from animals vaccinated with the vaccine strain of RPV showed cross-neutralizing ability against PPRV, none of the sera from animals vaccinated with any strain of PPRV was able to neutralize RPV although sera from animals inoculated with wild-type PPRV were able to neutralize RPV-pseudotyped vesicular stomatitis virus.

Sourced through Scoop.it from: jvi.asm.org

I have written before in ViroBlogy about the eradication of rinderpest, and what a big deal that was – and here are people taking the gloomy view of wanting to have vaccines against it in case it gets used as a bioweapon, or escapes from fridges or freezers somewhere.

Not that these concerns aren’t valid – but surely it would be a better idea to use recombinant viruses expressing rinderpest envelope glycoproteins, rather than another live virus related to rinderpest which needs to be eradicated itself?
Just asking – but a recombinant poxvirus would seem to me to be a MUCH better option!

See on Scoop.itVirology News

Dengue Virus Antibodies Enhance Zika Virus Infection

26 April, 2016

We tested the neutralizing and enhancing potential of well-characterized broadly neutralizing human anti-DENV monoclonal antibodies (HMAbs) and human DENV immune sera against ZIKV using neutralization and ADE assays. We show that anti-DENV HMAbs, cross-react, do not neutralize, and greatly enhance ZIKV infection in vitro. DENV immune sera had varying degrees of neutralization against ZIKV and similarly enhanced ZIKV infection. 

Conclusions / Significance 

Our results suggest that pre-existing DENV immunity will enhance ZIKV infection in vivo and may increase disease severity. A clear understanding of the interplay between ZIKV and DENV will be critical in informing public health responses in regions where these viruses co-circulate and will be particularly valuable for ZIKV and DENV vaccine design and implementation strategies.

Zika virus graphic from Russell Kightley Media

Sourced through Scoop.it from: biorxiv.org

This is a big deal: a really big deal.  While people have been speculating around the issue for months now – yes, you, Neil Bodie! – this prepub appears to provide proof that prior immunity to the related dengue virus(es) may enhance Zika virus infection, without neutralising infectivity.  This is termed “antibody-dependent enhancement” (ADE), and is also a major factor in dengue haemorrhagic fever which results from ADE due to reinfection with a different dengue type.

It is also interesting because this is one of the first high-profile uses of the online preprint archive bioRxiv (STUPID name!) for a virology paper – which may open the floodgates, as people see what a good idea it potentially is.
The possibility that ADE exacerbates Zika infection means that the manifestations of Zika may be very different depending upon the seroprevalence of dengue and possibly yellow fever virus antibodies in the target population: where this is very low – as in the USA or Europe – there may be no real problem.  Where the seroprevalences are high – as is the case in Brazil and much of Central America – Zika infections may be much more severe.
We will wait and see.

See on Scoop.itVirology News

New Zika Mouse Model Mimics Human Disease

6 April, 2016

Researchers develop another mouse model of Zika virus infection that mimics the disease in humans.

Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.the-scientist.com

…and strains from Africa, Polynesia and Asia were used in it – and all did the same thing?  Interesting…meaning there is no clear differentiation between “original” (=older) African strains and more recent incarnations?  Meaning, obviously, that background immunity due to endemicity will probably prevent the nastiness seen in adult infections in S America?  Possibly…watch this space!

See on Scoop.itIDM News

“Minimal cell raises stakes in race to harness synthetic life”. Really??

29 March, 2016

Genomics entrepreneur Craig Venter has created a synthetic cell that contains the smallest genome of any known, independent organism. Functioning with 473 genes, the cell is a milestone in his team’s 20-year quest to reduce life to its bare essentials and, by extension, to design life from scratch.

Venter, who has co-founded a company that seeks to harness synthetic cells for making industrial products, says that the feat heralds the creation of customized cells to make drugs, fuels and other products. But an explosion in powerful ‘gene-editing’ techniques, which enable relatively easy and selective tinkering with genomes, raises a niggling question: why go to the trouble of making new life when you can simply tweak what already exists?

Thomas Deerinck and Mark Ellisman/NCMIR/UCSD
Each cell of JCVI-syn3.0 contains just 473 genes, fewer than any other independent organism.
Unlike the first synthetic cells made in 20101, in which Venter’s team at the J. Craig Venter Institute in La Jolla, California, copied an existing bacterial genome and transplanted it into another cell, the genome of the minimal cells is like nothing in nature. Venter says that the cell, which is described in a paper released on 24 March in Science2, constitutes a brand new, artificial species.

Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.nature.com

So: JC Venter and team have stripped down a pre-existing organism to what appears to be the essential set of genes, added “watermarks” and inspirational quotes – and this is part of a race to harness synthetic life?  If so, they’re pretty much racing themselves, because precious few others are trying to do the same things.

And if you DID want to, why make a completely artificial cell genome?  Why not use tailored viruses?  It’s a great development, don’t get me wrong, but it is very much part of the “because we can” school of biology, rather than anything directed towards something as coherent as a race to harness synlife*.
* = I should TM that…B-)

See on Scoop.itVirology News

Was I wrong on HIV/AIDS: Thabo Mbeki. Answer: yes. Yes, you were.

7 March, 2016

In 2002 a few of us here in South Africa wrote a booklet entitled “Castro Hlongwane…”‚ and sub-titled it “HIV/AIDS and the Struggle for the Humanisation of the African”.

AN OVERVIEW

Here is an excerpt from that booklet, which speaks for itself: “The first report on the incidence of HIV in South and Southern Africa was published in the “New England Journal of Medicine” and the “South African Medical Journal”, both in 1985. Two of the most important findings in this report were that in our country and region: 

HIV infection was confined to male homosexuals; and,

HIV was not endemic in this region of the world.

To quote this report, it said: “The only positive subjects were in the group compromising male homosexuals. The majority of these positive subjects had either recently been to the United States or had had sexual contact with other homosexuals who had visited the United States…

Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.timeslive.co.za

Yes, Cde Mbeki, yes: you were wrong on HIV/AIDS, and you continue to be wrong.  And if you are going to revisit your nonsense, then I am going to revisit mine – just to show what some people thought of you.

Because you wrote that “booklet”, Cde Mbeki. There are those of us who know how to see who authored something, and the copy I had of that scurrilous piece of rubbish said it came from your laptop. It was rubbish then, and can be seen to be even more rubbish now.
And if you are still a denialist, then I sincerely hope that there is a tribunal in your future.

See on Scoop.itVirology News