Tenth Transgenic Animal Research Conference, Tahoe City, California (USA), 9 – 13 August, 2015

June 26th, 2015
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TARC_2015blog

Plan to attend the 10th Transgenic Animal Research Conference (TARC X) in August of 2015.  At this international meeting you will learn the latest developments in the field of non-murine transgenic animals. In celebration of the 10th conference in this series the program will contain nine review talks, to be published in a special issue of Transgenic Research. Once again the conference will be held at the beautiful Granlibakken Resort and Conference Center, high in the Sierra Nevada Mountains adjacent to beautiful Lake Tahoe. This meeting is co-sponsored by the ISTT.

Rooms are limited, so plan to register early. The conference web site opened February 1, 2015 for registrations and submission of poster abstracts. The following list of speakers confirms again that this is conference not to be missed. Additionally, in conjunction with Recombinetics, Inc there will be a special one day program on August 13th for the livestock, poultry and aquaculture industries on the application of GE animals. A list of confirmed speakers and topics, as well as additional information, registration and poster submission forms may be found on the conference web site (http://conferences.ucdavis.edu/transgenic).  We invite you to join us for this interesting and important conference and learn more about the genetic future of the livestock industry.

Confirmed Speakers:

Reviews

  • Elizabeth Maga/Jim Murray (UC Davis)  GE livestock for agriculture
  • Chris Rogers (Exemplar Genetics)  GE livestock for biomedical models
  • Heiner Niemann (Hannover) Xenotransplantation
  • Tim Doran (CSIRO, Australia) GE Poultry
  • Pablo Ross (UC Davis)  iPS/Stem cells
  • Jun Wu (Salk Institute) Organ complementation
  • Bruce Whitelaw (Edinburgh) Gene editing/gene targeting
  • Luciana Bertolini (Brazil) Production of pharmaceuticals
  • Kevin Wells  (Missouri) Regulation of transgenic animals

Additional speakers and topics

  • Maeve Ballantyne  (Roslin) African swine fever resistant pigs
  • Simon Bawden  (Australia) Huntington’s disease sheep model
  • Jayne Raper  (New York)  Cattle resistant to trypanosomiasis
  • Lydia Garas (UC Davis)  Effects of lysozyme milk on intestinal health
  • Jorge Piedrahita (NC State)  SCID pigs
  • Margarthe Cupurra (Sao Paulo)  GE mosquitos to control dengue fever
  • Lissa Herron (Roslin)  Pharmaceuticals from eggs
  • Eddie Sullivan (SABBiotherapeutics)  Targeting emerging infectious diseases through animal biotechnology
  • Hiro Nakauchi (Stanford) Interspecies blastocyst complementation

IMM2015-Leiden, June 11-12, 2015-A Short Meeting Report

June 15th, 2015
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IMM2015-Leiden, June 11-12, 2015-A Short Meeting Report

IMM2015-Leiden, June 11-12, 2015-A Short Meeting Report

On June 11-12, the 8th Workshop on Innovative Mouse Models (IMM2015) was held in the Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, Netherlands. This biannual meeting brings together a diverse group of researchers interested in developing and exploiting mouse models to study fundamental developmental processes and to mimic human disease. Featuring the most recent advances on transgenic animal technology, this meeting encourages in-depth discussions in a very open way, accessible for young and senior scientists. The local organizers proposed a very attractive program composed of 11 keynote lectures, 10 oral selected presentations and a forum discussion on the impact of new transgenic technology advances. About 150 scientists shared data, frustrations and promising future designs of recent transgenic approaches, particularly exploring the future and limits of the extremely powerful CRISPR/Cas9 system for genome editing. Also discussed were improved mouse reproductive technologies (sperm cryopreservation, embryo production…), novel imaging-technologies and a new and very efficient way of delivering native proteins.
Sjef Verbeek, initiator of the IMM worshops, opened the workshop with a warm welcome for all participants and expressed his gratitude to all the sponsors: Innoser, the International Society for Transgenic Technologies (ISTT), Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC) and The Netherlands Cancer Institute (NKI).
While we were proud to notice that many participants were already ISTT members, we believe that our presence there as a sponsor with a booth could convince many more to take THE step forward and join our society, as well as join us at our next TTMeeting in Prague (TT2016, 20-23 March 2016)! Yes, the ISTT booth attracted many scientists interested in our role and activities and has definitely been a central meeting point of IMM2015!
Benoît Kanzler

ISTT Board of Directors: STATEMENT ON GENETIC ENGINEERING OF HUMAN EMBRYOS

June 10th, 2015
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ISTT Board of Directors

STATEMENT ON GENETIC ENGINEERING OF HUMAN EMBRYOS

June 10, 2015

Genetic engineering in animals is a process that has engendered great excitement as well as great anxiety.  The technology is used to study developmental processes (using small animals such as the mouse, zebra fish, fruit fly, worm, etc.), determine gene function, and mimic human and animal disease processes.  Perhaps the greatest promises of this technology are to develop and test drugs and to perform gene therapy, both of which are intended to prevent or cure disease.  

Until recently, a variety of limitations made the technology impractical for all but a few species of animals (primarily mice).  However, with the advent of new gene-editing systems, where components are inexpensive, readily generated in the laboratory, and applicable to virtually any species, it is now feasible to perform genetic engineering in the human embryo.  Changes made in an embryo brought to term would no longer be confined to that individual, but could be passed through the germline to affect future generations.

A recent publication [Liang, P. et al. Protein Cellhttp://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s13238-015-0153-5 (2015)] brought this reality squarely into the public consciousness.  In this study, the CRISPR/Cas9 system was used to edit the genome of human embryos.  To their credit, the authors were careful to use only non-viable embryos.  Furthermore, their detailed examination of the engineered embryos revealed both the intended and unintended modifications that resulted.  This study clearly demonstrates that the CRISPR/Cas9 system is currently too imprecise and inefficient for genetic engineering of human embryos for implantation, gestation and birth.  

Members of the ISTT use CRISPR/Cas9 technology, as well as other gene-editing technologies, routinely.  Many of our members have had integral roles in the development of these technologies and therefore recognize the power of these systems.  It is with that knowledge and foresight that the ISTT Board of Directors issues this statement (while understanding that more nuanced discussions and decisions will be needed as the technology improves):

  • Genetic engineering technology, in its current state, is error-prone and must not be used in human embryos intended for implantation.
  • Studies to test new genetic engineering technology in human embryos should be postponed until proven completely safe and effective in other species.
  • New methods of genetic engineering must be carefully assessed to ensure that risk to the human population is negligible.
  • Uses of genetic engineering in human embryos should be limited to disease mitigation for those diseases where no other option is available; we reject the idea of “designer babies.”
  • We strongly urge worldwide agreement on minimum standards for gene editing experiments in human embryos, and will promote such measures with our members.  Until such standards have been established, we remain opposed to making any genetic alterations in human embryos that could be inherited by future generations.

 

Ultra-superovulation in C57BL/6 mice: 100 oocytes/female

May 30th, 2015
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New achievement in Reproductive Biology by Toru Takeo & Naomi Nakagata (CARD, University of Kumamoto, Japan). Ultra-superovulation of C57BL/6 mice: 100 oocytes/female obtained priming the animals with equine chorionic gonadotropin (eCG) and inhibin antiserum (IAS)

New achievement in Reproductive Biology by Toru Takeo & Naomi Nakagata (CARD, University of Kumamoto, Japan). Ultra-superovulation of C57BL/6 mice: 100 oocytes/female obtained priming the animals with equine chorionic gonadotropin (eCG) and inhibin antiserum (IAS)

Last September, in Buffalo (USA), at the CARD-RPCI Mouse Sperm and Embryo Cryopreservation course organized by Naomi Nakagata, Aimee Stablewski and Jan Parker-Thornburg, Naomi Nakagata himself presented the preliminary results of an amazing achievement in Reproductive Biology they had accomplished at the University of Kumamoto (Japan), namely: the obtention of more than 100 oocytes per C57BL/6 female after devising a new protocol for superovulation, a method they introduced as ULTRA-superovulation. Now, these totally unexpected results see the light in the form of a scientific manuscript, published yesterday in the PLOS ONE journal:

Toru Takeo & Naomi Nakagata (2015) Superovulation Using the Combined Administration of Inhibin Antiserum and Equine Chorionic Gonadotropin Increases the Number of Ovulated Oocytes in C57BL/6 Female Mice. PLOS ONE, Published: May 29, 2015DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0128330

In brief, in this publication, Toru Takeo and Naomi Nakagata describe their superovulation results using young (4-weeks old) C57BL/6 female after envisaging a new priming protocol. The combined used of equine chorionic gonadotropin (eCG) and inhibin antiserum (IAS), in a protocol they call IASe treatment,  significantly increased the number of oocytes obtained per C57BL/6 females. On average, more than 100 oocytes/female were obtained, about 3-4 times the number of oocytes regularly obtained by classical superovulation protocols. Thereafter, the authors tested the quality of these oocytes and used them for IVF, obtaining high fertilization rates (~90%), comparable to the high values regularly obtained with the new CARD methods these authors also devised recently, which have boosted the field of cryopreservation of mutant mice. Furthermore, the authors verified that the number of pups obtained after transferring all these embryos, obtained from IASe-derived oocytes and IVF  into recipients, was also 2-3 times higher.

The CARD YouTube channel has also released a movie showing ampullas of oviducts from IASe-treated C57BL/6 females literally full of oocytes.

The IAS reagent used by Takeo & Nakagata is not yet commercially available. In the paper, the authors produced the IAS by themselves and titrated the product until finding the optimal dose required for maximum output. On the contrary, eCG is commercially available and is commonly used in all mouse reproductive biology and transgenic labs to promote follicle growth. Subsequent experiments will be needed to explore the validity of these results in other mouse strains and species. In addition, a commercial reliable and validated source of IAS will greatly facilitate the dissemination of this new ultra-superovulation method among the scientific community. It is also remarkable to note that the application of the IASe treatment will logically reduce the number of superovulated donor females required to obtain oocytes for cryopreservation/IVF purposes, as nicely demonstrated in this first publication, and, likely, for other aims (i.e. microinjection of DNA or RNA/genome editors to produce genetically altered mice).

Congratulations once again to Toru Takeo and Naomi Nakagata for these impressing results and for their new spectacular achievement in mouse reproductive biology!.

Meet the ISTT at the 8th Workshop on Innovative Mouse Models (IMM2015)

May 22nd, 2015
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Meet the ISTT at the 8th Workshop on Innovative Mouse Models (IMM2015), 11-12 June 2015, in Leiden, the Netherlands

Meet the ISTT at the 8th Workshop on Innovative Mouse Models (IMM2015), 11-12 June 2015, in Leiden, the Netherlands

Meet the ISTT at the 8th Workshop on Innovative Mouse Models (IMM2015) that will be held on 11-12 June 2015, in Leiden, the Netherlands. The popular biannual “Workshop on Innovative Mouse Models” brings together a diverse group of scientists interested in developing and exploiting mouse models to study fundamental developmental processes and to mimic human disease. Keynote speakers from leading laboratories present the latest developments on advanced genome alteration protocols, this year specifically focusing on the use of CRISPR/Cas9-assisted gene modification. Also novel imaging-technologies will be presented. The two-day workshop format combines keynote lectures and presentations of selected abstracts in order to encourage in-depth and unvarnished discussions of novel technologies.
For more information, scientific programme with confirmed speakers and registration, please visit: http://research.nki.nl/immworkshop/
Looking forward to meet many of you at IMM2015 in Leiden!

The 11th ISTT Prize jointly awarded to Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier

April 18th, 2015
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The 11th ISTT Prize jointly awarded to Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier

The 11th ISTT Prize will be jointly awarded to Jennifer Doudna (left) and Emmanuelle Charpentier (right) at the 13th Transgenic Technology (TT2016) meeting that will be held in Prague (Czech Republic) on 20-23 March 2016. Charpentier photo courtesy of Humboldt-Stiftung/Sven Müller.

Houston, TX, USA. 18 April 2015.

The International Society for Transgenic Technologies (ISTT, Inc.) is proud to announce that the 11th ISTT Prize will be co-awarded to Dr. Emmanuelle Charpentier and Dr. Jennifer Doudna for their collaborative work on the CRISPR-Cas9 system that is rapidly advancing the field of transgenic research. The ISTT Prize is awarded to investigators who have made outstanding contributions to the field of transgenic technologies. The awardees for the 11th ISTT Prize were chosen by the ISTT Prize Committee, which consists of the ISTT President and Vice president, the CEO of genOway (the company that generously sponsors the award), and all previous ISTT prize awardees.

The Award Committee unanimously considered that Drs. Doudna and Charpentier’s work represents a major improvement in gene editing technology and molecular biology and allows the creation of precisely gene modified animal models faster than ever. They are both prominent biochemists whose pioneering work in the field of RNA regulation and elucidating the CRISPR-Cas systems in bacteria has resulted in the development of new tools to generate specific gene knock-out and knock-in animals without the requirement for embryonic stem cell manipulation. Earlier studies by other researchers had lead to the identification of clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) often surprisingly matching the DNA sequence of bacterial phages. The CRISPR-Cas systems were found to provide bacteria and archaea with adaptive immunity against viruses and plasmids. Both Charpentier and Doudna had been working separately on CRISPR-associated proteins, examining how they interacted with the repetitive sequences in conferring bacterial immunity. In 2011, Charpentier identified tracrRNA as a critical component of the CRISPR-Cas9 system. In a 2012 publication, which they co-authored, they demonstrated that the Cas9 enzyme from Streptococcus pyogenes (a relatively simple CRISPR system) could be targeted to perform a double strand cut at a specific DNA site and that precise targeting could be achieved using a single-guide RNA that combined the crRNA and tracrRNA (Jinek, et al, Science, 17 August 2012, p.816). As a result of their collaborative efforts, the CRISPR-Cas9 system is fast revolutionizing the transgenic technology field as researchers apply these methods to introduce subtle genome modifications at specifically targeted loci in a wide variety of cells and cell types. Certainly, their discoveries have led to what is known now as the “CRISPR-Craze” [Science 341:833-836(2013)] and will help research and the development of human therapeutics.

Dr. Jennifer Doudna was born in 1964 in Washington DC, USA. She received her PhD in Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology from Harvard Medical School, studying with Prof. Jack Szostak. She is currently a Howard Hughes Investigator at the University of California, Berkeley in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology and the Department of Chemistry, the Head of the Division of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Structural Biology and holds the Li Ka Shing Chancellor’s Chair in Biomedical Sciences.

Dr. Emmanuelle Charpentier was born in 1968 in Juvisy-sur-Orge in France. She received her PhD in Microbiology from the Pasteur Institute. She is currently a Guest Professor at the Laboratory for Molecular Infection Medicine Sweden (MIMS), a Nordic partnership with the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL). She has also been appointed Professor at the Hannover Medical School, and is Head of the Department “Regulation in Infection Biology” at the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research in Braunschweig (Germany). She holds an Alexander von Humboldt Professorship.

The contributions to science made by Drs. Charpentier and Doudna have been recognized by the fact that they have received numerous honors and awards, both individually and together. Notably, as collaborators, they received the Dr. Paul Janssen Award for Biomedical Research in 2014, and the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences in 2014.

We are delighted that both researchers have agreed to receive the ISTT Prize, thus joining the list of previously honored scientists (in descending chronological order): Janet Rossant (2014), Allan Bradley (2013), Ralph Brinster (2011), Francis Stewart (2010), Brigid Hogan (2008), Charles Babinet (2007), Andras Nagy (2005), Qi Zhou (2004), Kenneth McCreath (2002), Teruhiko Wakayama (2001). All ISTT Prize winners are given honorary ISTT membership and a unique silver sculpture representing a mouse blastocyst created by the Hungarian artist Béla Rozsnyay. Drs. Charpentier and Doudna will receive their prize at the next 13th Transgenic Technology Meeting (TT2016) that will be held in Prague (Czech Republic) on 20-23 March 2016.

Selected References from Drs. Charpentier and Doudna’s lifetime achievements:

Dr. Charpentier
1. Deltcheva E, Chylinski K, Sharma C, Gonzales K, Chao Y, Pirzada ZA, Eckert M, Vogel J and Charpentier E. 2011. CRISPR RNA maturation by trans-encoded small RNA and host factor RNAse III. Nature 471(7340):602-607.
2. Jinek M, Chylinski K, Fonfara I, Hauer M, Doudna JA and Charpentier E. 2012. A programmable dual-RNA guided DNA endonuclease in adaptive bacterial immunity. Science 337(6096):816-821.
3. Fonfara I, Le Rhun A, Chylinski K, Makarova KS, Lécrivain AL, Bzdrenga J, Koonin EV and Charpentier E. 2014. Phylogeny of Cas9 determines functional exchangeability of dual-RNA and Cas9 among orthologous type II CRISPR-Cas systems. Nucleic Acids Res. 42(4):2577-2590.

Dr. Doudna
1. Jinek M, East A, Cheng A, Lin S, Ma E and Doudna JA. 2013. RNA-programmed genome editing in human cells. eLIFE; 2:e00471. DOI: 10.7554/eLife.00471/
2. Sternberg SH, Redding S, Jinek M, Greene EC, Doudna JA. 2014. DNA interrogation by the CRISPR RNA-guided endonuclease Cas9. Nature 507:62-67.
3. Jinek M, Chylinski K, Fonfara I, Hauer M, Doudna JA and Charpentier E. 2012. A programmable dual-RNA guided DNA endonuclease in adaptive bacterial immunity. Science 337(6096):816-821.

This 11th ISTT Prize press release can be downloaded from here.

ISTT Awarded Scientists

February 27th, 2015
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ISTT Awarded Scientists (2001-2014). Outstanding researchers in the field of Transgenic Technologies that have been awarded the ISTT Prize or the ISTT Young Investigator Award

ISTT Awarded Scientists (2001-2014). Outstanding researchers in the field of Transgenic Technologies that have been awarded the ISTT Prize or the ISTT Young Investigator Award

The International Society for Transgenic Technologies (ISTT) has updated its web site and now includes, in its public pages, additional information for all the awarded scientists, outstanding researchers in the field of Transgenic Technologies, which have been awarded the ISTT Prize, generously sponsored by genOway, or the ISTT Young Investigador Award, generously sponsored by ingenious targeting laboratory.

These are the 10 outstanding scientists awarded the ISTT Prize for the period 2001-2014. The ISTT was founded in 2006 and the first ISTT Prize was awarded in Toronto, at the TT2008 meeting. Previously, these awards were known as the genOway Prize for transgenic technologies.

  • Janet Rossant, 10th ISTT Prize, TT2014 meeting, Edinburgh, UK
  • Allan Bradley, 9th ISTT Prize, TT2013 meeting, Guangzhou, China
  • Ralph L. Brinster, 8th ISTT Prize, TT2011 meeting, Florida, USA
  • A. Francis Stewart, 7th ISTT Prize, TT2010 meeting, Berlin, Germany
  • Brigid Hogan, 6th ISTT Prize, TT2008 meeting, Toronto, Canada
  • Charles Babinet, 5th genOway Prize, TT2007 meeting, Brisbane, Australia
  • Andras Nagy, 4th genOway Prize, TT2005 meeting, Barcelona, Spain
  • Qi Zhou, 3th genOway Prize, TT2004 meeting, Uppsala, Sweden
  • Kenneth J. McCreath, 2nd genOway Prize, TT2002 meeting, Munich, Germany
  • Teruhiko Wakayama, 1st genOway Prize, TT2001 meeting, Stockholm, Sweden

These are the 3 outstanding researchers awarded the ISTT Young Investigator Award for the period 2011-2014

  • Feng Zhang, 3rd ISTT Young Investigator Award, TT2014 meeting, Edinburgh, UK
  • Toru Takeo, 2nd ISTT Young Investigator Award, TT2013 meeting, Guangzhou, China
  • Xiao-Yang Zhao, 1st ISTT Young Investigator Award, TT2011 meeting, Florida, USA

Advances in the Generation of Genetically Modified Animal Models: International Course & Symposium, Institut Pasteur de Montevideo (Uruguay), 7-18 September 2015

January 21st, 2015
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Advances in the Generation of Genetically Modified Animal Models: International Course & Symposium, Institut Pasteur de Montevideo (Uruguay), 7-18 September 2015

Advances in the Generation of Genetically Modified Animal Models: International Course & Symposium, Institut Pasteur de Montevideo (Uruguay), 7-18 September 2015

The International Society for Trangenic Technologies (ISTT) proudly co-sponsors the International Course & Symposium on Advances in the Generation of Genetically Modified Animal Models, to be held at the Institut Pasteur de Montevideo (Uruguay), organized by ISTT Members Martina Crispo (Unidad de Animales Transgénicos y Experimentación, UATE, Institut Pasteur de Montevideo) and Alejo Menchaca (Instituto de Reproducción Animal de Uruguay, IRAUy), on 8-15 September 2015.

The aim is to offer a training course of excellence for researchers and technicians working in animal transgenic field. The topics will be focused on both the basic knowledge and the latest advances in transgenic technologies. The course consists of a 1st week of lectures sessions and a 2nd week of practical sessions. In addition, a mini symposium (11-12 September) is organized in order to extend the impact of the presence of the professors to other researchers, technicians and posgraduate students. Current programs for the COURSE and MINI-SYMPOSIUM.

Confirmed speakers attending this Course and mini-Symposium include:

  • Michel Cohen-Tannoudji, IPParis, France
  • Francina Langa, IP Paris, France, ISTT member
  • Ignacio Anegón, INSERM, Nantes, France, ISTT member
  • Lluis Montoliu, CNB, Spain, ISTT member
  • Jorge Sztein, consultant, Spain
  • Sylva Haralambous, HPI, Greece, ISTT member
  • Naomi Nakagata, CARD, Kumamoto U, Japan, ISTT member
  • Charles Long, Texas A&M University, USA
  • Daniel Salamone, Fagro, UBA, Argentina
  • Adrian Mutto, UNSM, Argentina
  • Marcelo Rubinstein, INGEBI, Argentina, ISTT member
  • Marcelo Bertolini, UNIFOR, Brazil

Local professors and instructors include:

  • Magdalena Cárdenas, IP Montevideo, Uruguay
  • Ana Paula Mulet, IP Montevideo, Uruguay
  • Geraldine Schlapp, IP Montevideo, Uruguay, ISTT member
  • María Noel Meikle, IP Montevideo, Uruguay, ISTT member
  • Gabriel Fernández, IP Montevideo, Uruguay
  • Ana Paula Arévalo, IP Montevideo, Uruguay
  • Martina Crispo, IP Montevideo, Uruguay, ISTT member
  • Pedro C. dos Santos, IRAUy, Uruguay
  • Natalibeth Barrera, IRAUy, Uruguay
  • Federico Cuadro, IRAUy, Uruguay
  • Alejo Menchaca, IRAUy, Montevideo, Uruguay, ISTT member

People interested in participating in this COURSE must send the COURSE Application Form to tgcourse2015@pasteur.edu.uy
A maximum of 20 students will be accepted for the COURSE taking into account personal qualifications.
There is no registration fee for the COURSE. Support for accommodation, per diem and local transportation will be provided to all participants from abroad. Travel expenses are not included.
People interested in participating in the MINI SYMPOSIUM must send the SYMPOSIUM Registration Form to tgcourse2015@pasteur.edu.uy
SYMPOSIUM fee is U$S 100.

SAVE THE DATES!
Deadline for COURSE applications is June 28th
Deadline for SYMPOSIUM registrations is July 19th
For any further information contact: tgcourse2015@pasteur.edu.uy
www.pasteur.edu.uy/index.php/en/futurecourses

 

SALAAM kick-off meeting in Munich: thinking big (the important role of large animal models)

January 19th, 2015
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SALAAM kick-off meeting in Munich: 15-17 December 2014

SALAAM kick-off meeting in Munich: 15-17 December 2014

About a month ago, shortly before the season break, and very timely to enjoy its Christmas Market (Weihnachtsmarkt), the kick-off meeting of the Project SALAAM (Sharing Advances on Large Animal Models) took place in Munich (Germany), 15-17 December 2014, beautifully organized by Eckhard Wolf and Pascale Chavatte-Palmer, Chair and Co-Chair of this EU-COST Action BM1308. This conference, open to any interested researcher in the field, represented the official launch of the SALAAM project, to discuss about the role of large animal models in Translational Medicine, “Bridging the Gap between Basic and Clinical Research”, as indicated in the SALAAM logo. During these three days, about 120 scientists, including researchers not initially associated with SALAAM (including several ISTT members), gathered at the Gene Center, LMU Munich, to share their views about the role of large animal models in biomedicine.

The meeting started with a welcome address by Eckhard Wolf (LMU, Munich, Chair of SALAAM) who set the stage and underlined the need to use appropriate animal models for succeeding in translational research. In the past, large amount of resources have been devoted to rodents, mostly mice, in biomedicine, where mouse models have become instrumental for the current understanding of how most of our genes work and greatly facilitated the progress in the post-genomic era. However, in spite of mice being widely used in Biomedicine to model human diseases, often mice fail to accurately reproduce the features associated with a given human pathology. Therefore there is an urgent need to develop non-rodent animal models that would mimic aspects of human anatomy and human physiology more closely. Pigs, small ruminants and rabbits appear to be excellent candidates to follow up the preliminary discoveries made in mice, and they are the main purpose of the SALAAM initiative, through all the appointed participants, experts in these large animal models. The conference continued for its first day with lectures by A. Aartsma-Rus (NL), and S. Wildhirt (DE), who described examples of use of large animal models for Duchenne muscular dystrophy and for the development of medical devices, respectively. The initial Ethical perspective on the use of large animals was provided by N. Stingelin (CH). This first day concluded with an interesting key-note lecture by M.M. Mohiuddin (USA) on the recent advances in pig-to-primate cardiac xenotransplantation.

On the second day, the conference presented the very large repertoire of methods and techniques that are currently available for Genetic Tailoring of large animal models. Angelika Schnieke (DE) introduced the state of art for the current genetic engineering of large animals, nicely summarizing many years of techniques and developments that have been successfully applied for the production of large genetically modified animal models. This initial talk was followed by a presentation by Lluis Montoliu (ES) on the use of CRISPR-Cas9 approaches to functionally analyze the role of non-coding genomic sequences, illustrated with some examples tested in mice, depicting the important role of rodents in proof-of-concept type of experiments, before undertaking subsequent experiments in larger animal models. B. Grzeskowiak (PL) presented an innovative set of nanomagnetic gene delivery vectors for transgenesis. Two additional talks illustrated the power of genetic engineering of the pig genome, using transposons (W.A. Kues, DE) or very elaborated gene cassettes for regulating and tracing disease genes (J.E. Jakobsen, DK). The session ended with a presentation from goats, where L. Boulanger (FR) reported the role of FOXL2 as a female sex-determining gene.

The SALAAM conference continued with a session devoted to systematic phenotyping initiatives of large animal models. At first, H. Fuchs (DE), presented the experience and phenotyping pipeline of the German Mouse Clinic, operating within the Infrafrontier consortium, and a good example of successful systematic phenotyping in mice. Next, Pascale Chavatte-Palmer (FR) discussed the achievements and challenges of imaging techniques in large animal models, through her studies on reproduction and fetal development. J. Tibau (ES) presented his interesting studies using pigs to analyze human obesity and to validate the effect of diets on the evolution of fat deposition using tomography approaches. A. Blutke (DE) introduced the impressive Munich MIDY-PIG Biobank initiative, as a unique resource for translational diabetes research. The two last talks presented the use of pigs as models for respiratory infections (K. Skovgaard, DK) or cystic fibrosis (I. Caballero, FR).

The last standard session of this SALAAM conference was devoted to discuss how to select the best animal model. This session began with an interesting presentation by J. Langermans (NL), who shared their initiative of non-human primate biobanking for translational medicine, a collaborative consortium where most of the nonhuman primate research centres in Europe were represented. He also discussed the unique features of non-human primates to investigate devastating diseases affecting us, such as the new infections (i.e. Ebola) or neurodegenerative diseases (i.e. Alzheimer, Parkinson) , often very challenging to be reproduced in non-primate animal models. Next, Antonio Gonzalez-Bulnes (ES) discussed the advantages and challenges of using pigs and sheep animal models, whereas L. Hiripi (HU) presented the unique features of the rabbit models.  V. Huygelen (BE) discussed the use of piglets to investigate the human low birth weight cases , and A. Navarrete Santos (DE) further presented rabbits as ideal models for investigating diabetes during pregnancy. Diabetes research was also the focus of the last speaker of the session, G. Pennarossa (IT), whose experimental dessigns are focused on the use of dogs to explore cell therapy-based treatments.

The SALAAM first public conference ended with an excellent and very motivating talk by Karin Blumer (CH) on the ethical aspects of using large animals. She challenged the audience with the question whether “size did matter?” when it comes to Ethics and Animal Models. Her presentation nicely illustrated the different Ethical perspectives existing in the field and, most importantly, the relevant parameters that should be taken into account in order to properly address this question. She presented the “size” of an animal as an accidental attribute, not an intrinsic value, that must not determine its moral status. This presentation triggered an interesting and live discussion among the participants.

On the third and last day, the different working groups of SALAAM gathered first independently to discuss the next initiatives and eventually shared their conclusions in a combined general session. The planned initiatives will include the organization of practical workshops on CRISPR-Cas9 and transposon technologies, the generation of specific pig Cre-transgenic lines for the production of conditional pig mutant animal models,  the need to standardize phenotyping protocols associated with additional specific training courses, the preparation of biobanks and associated databases for archiving and sharing tissues from large animal models, and the creation of a group to analyze the implementation of the 2010/63/EU Directive across Europe, the public perception and ethical issues of animal research, and the need for training to adequately communicate results to the public.

Information about future plans, initiatives and activities of the SALAAM EU-COST action will be available from its dedicated web site.

The ISTT Calendar for year 2015

January 5th, 2015
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Download a free copy of the 2015 ISTT Calendar

Download a free copy of the 2015 ISTT Calendar

Happy New Year to all ISTT Members!. Here, you can download a free copy of the 2015 ISTT Calendar. This edition has been nicely prepared by ISTT Board Member Karen Brennan (Sydney, Australia), using numerous beautiful images generously provided by members and supporting companies. Download it, print it and use it!. Enjoy it!.


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