Germany, SwitzerlandSwitzerland

Genetic engineers restore natural resistance mechanism


Neuchâtel/Halle – Swiss and German plant researchers have restored a lost natural resistance mechanism in maize plants by means of genetic engineering. Their findings, which have been filed for patent, could eventually help prevent use of insecticides like chlothianidine that kill maize pests but also bees (Pnas 106(32), 13213-13218). After Ted Turlings (University Neuchâtel) and Joerg Degenhardt (Univeristy Halle) had transferred a gene from oregano into maize, the plants began emitting the allomone

(E)-beta-caryophyllene (EbC) from their roots. The compound attracts tiny nematodes that attack and kill larvae from the Western corn rootworm (Diabrotica virgi­fera virgifera), the most damaging maize pest in the US.
The transgenic corn reduced numbers of Diabrotica beetles by 60%, as well as root damage in the plant. “The use of this indirect defense is an attractive strategy for increasing plant resistance to herbivores, and also for reducing the use of chemical pesticides,” said Degenhardt, who pointed out that the EbC gene could be reintroduced through breeding as well as by genetic engineering. The advantages of the biotech method, however, are that it is faster than breeding and helps prevent alteration of important traits such as yield. The researchers are now looking at the most effective ways to make use of the nematodes and their response to EbC. After decades of breeding, most commercial North American strains of maize have lost the ability possessed by maize ancestor varieties to attract the natu­ral enemy of the Western corn rootworm through EbC emission.



Basel/Berkeley – Europe enters into the age of personalised medicine. The European Commission has approved the melanoma drug Zelboraf. While the compound was developed by US-based Plexxikon Inc., owned by Daiichi Sankyo Group,...



Basel – The rumours started just before Christmas. Roche wants Illumina. Just how dearly, has just become clear. The Swiss drugmaker made a $5.7b hostile bid for Illumina, the current market leader in Next-Generation sequencing....



Basel – Good and bad news for Swiss drugmaker Novartis. First a look on the bright side: Signifor, for the treatment of Cushing's disease, is on its final stretch to approval. The Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use...



Basel - It is a further push for Roche's ambitions in medicine concerning the treatment of skin cancer: The European Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) has recommended that the drug Zelboraf and its companion...



Allschwil – Europe’s largest stand-alone biotech company Actelion Ltd. is receiving an injection of fresh capital. Under the guidance of the two biggest Swiss banks – UBS and Credit Suisse – the Swiss company will be issued a...



Stans – Due to the current financial market conditions and the lack of significant progress with currently available options, Swiss drug developer Mondobiotech says it will be implementing restructuring measures. Together with...



Geneva – There's is life in Swiss biotechnology beyond big pharma. Genentech has launched a First-in-Human study with anti-IL-17, an antibody made by the Swiss biotechnology company NovImmune. The fully human monoclonal antibody,...



Basel – The FDA has withdrawn the accelerated approval for Roche's Avastin (bevacizumab) to treat metastasising breast cancer. The US regulatory authority had originally granted accelerated approval for Avastin's use in treating...



Basel/Hervel – It may be the end of Novartis' lucky streak in osteoporosis. While the once a year osteoporosis injection Aclasta (a bisphosphonate) sells well, the Swiss pharma company had to break disastrous news from a...

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