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Archive - Oct 4, 2015

Israel-Based Company Develops Scalable, Cost-Effective, Sustainable Solution for Production of Microalgae-Biomass

Novel and scalable technology and a production process combining algal biomass cultivation, harvesting, and concentration, as well as extraction and fractionation of fatty acids from the biomass, result in the ability to offer high-quality feedstock for various industries at a highly competitive price. UniVerve Ltd. (UniVerve), a company headquartered in Tel Aviv, Israel, has begun scaling-up its novel technological process, which is expected to change the feedstock market in various industries, such as food, feed, and biofuel, which are forced to look for alternative feedstock due to the increasing price of current raw materials. A description of UniVerve’s technology is offered in an article published in the June & September 2015 of the journal Technology. The article is titled “A Novel Technology to Produce Microalgae Biomass As Feedstock for Biofuel, Food, Feed, and More.” While microalgae-oil was perceived as the preferred feedstock to supply the inelastic global demand for biofuel, industry and academia attempts to create viable microalgae-oil production processes have not reached the desired goal yet. In the meantime, UniVerve has developed an innovative technological process that provides a scalable, cost effective, and sustainable solution for the production of microalgae-biomass. The oil, which can be extracted with off-the-shelf wet extraction technologies and used as an excellent feedstock for all kinds of biofuel, is expected to be produced at up to 50 dollars per barrel (equal to the current market price of crude fossil oil). As the biomass contains also omega-3 fatty acids, proteins, and other valuable biomaterials that can be commercialized in the food and feed markets, a microalgae farm can serve the biofuel, food, and feed industries, which face an increasing lack of quality feedstock at an affordable price.

Restoring Wild Plant Odors & Nectars to Crop Plants to Reduce Pest Infestations

Rose gardeners have a lot to say about aphids. Some may advise insecticides as a way to manage an infestation, but others will swear by live ladybugs (natural predators of aphids). The latter is more environmental-friendly, and once the ladybugs run out of food to eat, they move on. While this strategy may work in someone's backyard, it's not an option on a large farm. In an October 4, 2015 Trends in Plant Science open-access opinion paper, agricultural researchers in Sweden and Mexico argue that one way around the scalability problem is to bring back the odors and nectars found in wild plants that attract pest-eating predators. This could be done either through breeding programs or by using artificial devices. The article is titled “Optimizing Crops for Biocontrol of Pests and Disease.” "Wild plants commonly emit natural odors when they are damaged that attract natural enemies of pest insects--even as humans we smell it when our neighbour is mowing the lawn - odors can carry very precise information," says co-author Dr. Martin Heil of CINVESTAV-Irapuato in Mexico. "Agriculture has bred such defenses out of crops, and because these odors have no negative effects on human consumers, we want to replace what the plant would already be doing." It's also not unusual for wild plants to produce nectar on their leaves to feed carnivores. While leaf-eating caterpillars or beetles are munching away on plant matter, predatory ants or wasps have a sugary substance to drink and a well-stocked spot to lay their eggs. Dr. Heil and others theorize that the reason these rather helpful traits no longer exist in crops is because plant breeders and decision makers couldn't tell the difference between helpful insects and pests. Only in the past 30 years has it been recognized that plants use odors to communicate to one another and to other species.

Johan Skog, CSO of Exosome Diagnostics, Will Discuss Exosome RNA for Biomarker Development and Clinical Applications of Exosome Biomarkers in Free Webinar on Tuesday, October 6, 11 AM EDT

A free, live-broadcast webinar on exosome RNA biomarkers will be presented on Tuesday, October 6, 2015, beginning at 11 am EDT. In a 90-minute presentation, industry expert Dr. Johan Skog, Chief Scientific Officer and Founding Scientist at Exosome Diagnostics, will discuss the exosome composition, different sources of RNA in biofluids, and approaches to isolate them. Following this overview, he will speak about clinical applications of exosome biomarkers. To learn more about this free event, and to register for it, please visit: Discovery and validation of biomarkers has traditionally required the use of tissue for analysis of RNA, DNA or protein. This has been especially true for RNA-based biomarkers, because RNase degradation of free RNA makes translation of tissue-based biomarkers into blood based tests highly problematic. However, the discovery that exosomes found in biofluids contain stable, disease-specific RNA, represents a potential paradigm shift for biomarker discovery and development. Exosome RNA can be used to monitor tumor-derived mutations in biofluids, but can also be used to monitor RNA levels reflective of different signaling pathways (including mRNA, miRNA, lncRNA and other types of RNA). In addition, exosome RNA can be used to monitor cell activities resulting in fusions and RNA splice variants that cannot be measured on circulating free tumor DNA. Dr. Johan Skog is a renowned, well-published thought leader in exosome science, having pioneered breakthrough discoveries about exosomes and other microvesicles and their vital role as cell messengers and disease proliferators. While at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School, Dr.

Glucose Starvation in Cardiomyocytes Enhances Exosome Secretion and Promotes Angiogenesis in Endothelial Cells

New work by researchers in Spain indicates that exosome-mediated communication between cardiomyocytes (CMs) and endothelial cells (ECs) establishes a functional relationship that could have potential implications for the induction of local neovascularization during acute situations such as cardiac injury. The researchers noted that it has been well known that CMs and ECs have an intimate anatomical relationship that is essential for maintaining normal development and function in the heart. However, the scientists said that little had been known about about the mechanisms that regulate cardiac and endothelial crosstalk, particularly in situations of acute stress when local active processes are required to regulate endothelial function. Consequently, the research team examined whether CM-derived exosomes could modulate endothelial function. Under conditions of glucose deprivation, immortalized H9C2 CMs increase their secretion of exosomes. CM-derived exosomes are loaded with a broad repertoire of miRNAs and proteins in a glucose-availability-dependent manner. Gene Ontology (GO) analysis of exosome cargo molecules identified an enrichment of biological process that could alter EC activity. The researchers observed experimentally that addition of CM-derived exosomes to ECs induced changes in the transcriptional activity of pro-angiogenic genes. In addition, the scientists demonstrated that incubation of H9C2-derived exosomes with ECs induced proliferation and angiogenesis in the ECs. Thus, they concluded that exosome-mediated communication between CMs and ECs establishes a functional relationship that could have potential implications for the induction of local neovascularization during acute situations such as cardiac injury.

Urine miRNAs Found Mainly in Exosomes in Patients with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE); One Exosomal miRNA Distinguishes Acute Lupus Nephritis

Researchers from the INCLIVA Biomedical Research Institute in Valencia, Spain, together with collaborators, have shown that microRNAs (miRNAs) in the urine of patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) are found mainly in exosomes, and the most significant SLE-associate increase in a specific miRNA associated with SLE was found in miR-146a (100-fold increase) and this increase was specifically in patients with active lupus nephritis. Among the exosomal miRNAs tested, only the miR-146a discriminated the presence of active lupus nephritis. The research was published online on September 21, 2015 in PLOS ONE. The article was titled “Increased Urinary Exosomal MicroRNAs in Patients with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus.” In their work, the research team quantified specific miRNAs in the urine of patients with SLE (n = 38) and healthy controls (n = 12) by quantitative reverse-transcription PCR in cell-free urine, exosome-depleted supernatant, and exosome pellet obtained by ultracentrifugation. In the ontrol group, miR-335* and miR-302d were consistently higher in exosomes than in exosome-depleted supernatant, and miR-200c and miR-146a were higher in the cell-free fraction. In SLE patients, all urinary miRNAs tested were mainly in exosomes, with lower levels outside them (p<0.05 and p<0.01, respectively). The researchers noted that this pattern was especially relevant in patients with active lupus nephritis compared to the control group or to SLE patients in absence of lupus nephritis, with miR-146a being the most augmented (100-fold change, p<0.001). Among the exosomal miRNAs tested, only the miR-146a discriminated the presence of active lupus nephritis. The researchers concluded that urinary miRNAs are contained primarily in exosomes in SLE, and the main increment was found in the presence of active lupus nephritis.

Computational Geneticist at University of Chicago Named 2015 MacArthur Fellow: Awarded $625,000 Stipend

John Novembre, Ph.D., a computational geneticist at the University of Chicago, who studies the evolutionary history and genetic diversity of human populations, has been named a 2015 MacArthur Fellow. Awarded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to individuals for their exceptional creativity, significant accomplishments, and potential for important future achievements, MacArthur Fellowships are among the most prestigious honors in academia and the creative arts. The fellowship comes with an unrestricted stipend of $625,000 over the next five years that provides recipients the freedom to pursue creative endeavors. Dr. Novembre, Associate Professor in Human Genetics, is one of 24 new MacArthur Fellows drawn from diverse fields ranging from stem cell biology to puppetry. He is the 34th current or former University of Chicago faculty member to receive the award. “It is a profound honor to be named a MacArthur Fellow, and I look forward to living up to the foundation’s call to fulfill our creative potential,” Dr. Novembre said. “I’m still processing it all, but I hope to use the fellowship to fuel my creativity and explore exciting new projects, such as collecting and analyzing ancient DNA data.” Dr. Novembre’s research focuses on the development of powerful mathematical and statistical algorithms that shed light on the evolutionary history of populations, particularly on the processes that shaped human genetic diversity and disease.