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On the cutting edge
July 2019
by Jeffrey Bouley  |  Email the author
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MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.—Cellecta Inc. leads off our latest tour through the world of new technology for life sciences and pharma, with news announced near the end of June that it has launched what it says is the first commercially available dual-sgRNA libraries designed for CRISPR activation (CRISPRa) and CRISPR interference/repression (CRISPRi) genetic screens. These new pooled libraries enhance activation or repression of genes to produce more robust results from genetic screens.
 
According to the company, with the modified CRISPRa and CRISPRi systems, the standard CRISPR gene knockout capacity has been re-engineered to modulate gene activity, and these variations of the standard CRISPR system extend the types of genetic screening possible. For example, CRISPRa can be used to screen for genes that change phenotypes when activated rather than disrupted. These “gain-of-function” screens are not possible with the standard CRISPR knockout system, according to Cellecta.
 
Natural gene expression regulation factors often bind at multiple sites on a promoter to produce asynergistic activation or repression effect. Similarly, Cellecta’s novel dual-sgRNA CRISPRa and CRISPRi libraries enhance the activity of the standard single-sgRNA libraries because each construct expresses two different gRNA binding-distinct sites on the promoter of each gene target. This increases the likelihood that each targeted gene will be activated or repressed above a given threshold when compared to libraries where only a single sgRNA targets a gene promoter.
 
Said Donato Tedesco, director of R&D at Cellecta: “We found several examples where targeting more than one sgRNA to the same promoter enhanced expression levels of the target gene using the CRISPRa system, even when one sgRNA by itself had no detectable effect. As a result, it made sense to build a library where each construct has more than one sgRNA targeting each gene. We expected this to increase the overall level of effectiveness for the library and, indeed, this is what we saw when we compared the overall expression levels of our single-sgRNA CRISPRa library with the dual-sgRNA version.”
 

Bio-Rad launches scATAC-Seq solution
 
HERCULES, Calif.—Bio-Rad Laboratories Inc. recently announced the launch of its scATAC-Seq solution, a single-cell assay for transposase-accessible chromatin using sequencing. Findings published in Nature Biotechnology reportedly demonstrate its high capture efficiency and sensitivity for profiling of gene regulation of individual human cells.
 
The scATAC-Seq assay offers researchers a tool to map the epigenetic landscape at single-cell resolution to gain a deeper understanding of the molecular mechanisms behind healthy and disease processes in the body. The product harnesses the power of the ddSEQ Single-Cell Isolator and Bio-Rad’s Droplet Digital technology to partition thousands of nuclei or whole cells into individual nanoliter-sized droplets to facilitate library preparation for ATAC sequencing. The solution also includes a flexible bioinformatics pipeline for data analysis.
 
“Our product offers users the greatest sensitivity possible by providing the highest number of unique sequencing fragments that map to the nuclear genome, ATAC peaks, and transcription start sites,” said Carolyn Reifsnyder, director of global marketing for Bio-Rad’s Digital Biology Group. “With a cell capture efficiency of up to 95 percent ... we are confident that Bio-Rad provides a powerful tool to help researchers understand the factors that shape cell differentiation and cell fate.”
 

Deep learning for high content
 
BASEL, Switzerland—Genedata has formed a collaboration with AstraZeneca to automate high-content screening (HCS) image analysis using Genedata Imagence—reportedly the industry’s first commercial, HCS instrument-independent solution that applies the deep-learning approach to automate the analysis of HCS images on an enterprise scale. With this project, Genedata and AstraZeneca say, they strengthen a long-standing collaboration that garnered a 2018 Bio-IT World Best Practices Award for Informatics & Knowledge Management.
 
“Our collaboration with Genedata helps drive the exciting innovations that both companies strive for,” noted Steve Rees, vice president of the Discovery Biology division at AstraZeneca. “The computational workflows we’ve jointly developed have proven to be valuable tools for AstraZeneca. Now, with access to the first commercial version of Genedata Imagence software, our scientists can explore the broad benefits of deep learning in their day-to-day operations.”
 

Thermo takes LC performance to new levels
 
MILAN, Italy—Bringing what it says is enhanced flexibility to high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) while maintaining productivity, continuity and robustness, Thermo Fisher Scientific showcased its latest chromatography solutions and techniques during the 48th International Symposium on High Performance Liquid Phase Separations and Related Techniques held in June in Italy.
 
The launch of the Thermo Scientific Preparative HPLC family of columns is designed to meet the needs of pharmaceutical scientists seeking a scalable, cost-effective analytical solution for the preparative HPLC purification of drug candidates, production scale-up and high-quality separation of chiral molecules.
 
“Scientists across the life sciences are being asked to do more with less when it comes to HPLC techniques, and they cannot afford analytical challenges that cause costly delays or limit productivity,” said Molly Flick, vice president and general manager of chromatography columns and consumables at Thermo. “By providing consistent, reliable and cost-effective liquid separation, the introduction of our Preparative HPLC family of columns demonstrate our ongoing commitment to supporting our customers with their everyday analytical needs.”
 
Code: E071928

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