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Newsletter May 2015

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News: Chinese Gene-Editing Experiment Creeps Out Scientists
Germ-line gene therapy: A group of scientists in China has just crossed one of biotechnology's red lines. Chinese scientists have caused an uproar by trying to permanently edit the DNA of human embryos — created genetic changes that could be passed along from generation to generation. Their attempt didn't work very well, but the report, published in a small, online journal called Protein & Cell, has worried experts who have been watching out for such experiments. The motivation is to cure disease. In this experiment, the researchers were trying to correct defects in a gene called HBB that can cause a deadly blood disorder called beta-thalassemia. Gene therapy in adults and children is still experimental; the idea is to fix faulty disease-causing genes. But done in a very early embryo, the repair, called germline editing, would be permanent. It could also be passed along to future generations.

News: Man-made virus helps blind mice see the light
European scientists have reproduced the sensation of sight in blind mice by inserting light-reactive molecules into their optical nerve cells, and are now developing this treatment for use in humans. EU-funded researchers Dr Deniz Dalkara and Dr Jens Duebel at the Vision Institute in Paris, France, have designed a way of adding genes into a mouse's eye so that it responds to light independently of the natural mechinisms of the retina, the part of the eye concerned with light response. They have done this by using a light-sensitive molecule found in single-celled algae, which normally helps the algae swim towards light. The potential of this molecule to activate neurons in other species has been under investigation for years. The Vision Institute researchers have now found a way of capitalising on this, by using a virus to transport the algae-based molecule into the mouse's optical nerve cells.

- 13 - 16 May 2015, American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy (ASGCT) 18th Annual Meeting, New Orleans, Louisiana
- 27 - 30 May 2015, International Society for Cellular Therapy (ISCT) 21th Annual Meeting, Las Vegas, NV
- 9 - 11 June 2015, Annual conference of the British Society for Gene Therapy (BSGT), Glasgow, UK
- 13 - 16 June 2015, 9th International Conference on Oncolytic Virus Therapeutics, Boston, MA
- 21 - 26 June 2015, Gordon Research Conference: Virusses & Cells, Girona, Spain
- 20 – 21 July 2015, XIII International Conference on Cell and Gene Therapy, Paris, France
- 24 – 26 July 2015, The 21th Annual Meeting of the Japan Society of Gene Therapy (JSGT), Osaka, Japan
- 10 – 12 August 2015, 4th International Conference and Exhibition on Cell & Gene Therapy, London, UK
- 17 – 20 September 2015, XXIII Congress of the European Society of Gene and Cell Therapy (ESGCT) and the Finnish Society of Gene Therapy, Helsinki, Finland
- 29 – 30 September 2015, Cell & Gene Therapy Europe, Barcelona, Spain
- 12 – 13 October 2015, 3rd Cancer Vaccines and Gene Therapy Meeting, Malvern, PA
- 4 – 6 November 2015, 8th Congress of the Spanish Society of Gene (SETGyC) and Cell Therapy, San Sebastian, Spain
- 4 – 6 November 2015, ATMP 2015 - Issues and Challenges from Bench to Bedsite, Tutzing, Germany
- 18 – 20 November 2015, 14th Annual Gene Therapy Symposium for Heart, Lung, and Blood Diseases, Sonoma, CA
- March 2016, French Society of Cell and Gene Therapy (SFTCG) Annual Congress, Marseille, France
- 4 - 7 May 2016, American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy (ASGCT) 19th Annual Meeting, Washington, DC
- 25 – 26 July 2016, XIV International Conference on Cell and Gene Therapy, Paris, France
- 28 – 30 July 2016, The 22th Annual Meeting of the Japan Society of Gene Therapy (JSGT), Venue to be determined, Japan
- 18 – 21 October 2016, XXIV Congress of the European Society of Gene and Cell Therapy (ESGCT) and the International Society for Stem Cell Research, Florence, Italy


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