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/Hinxton (UK) – Two European teams have created huge repositories of cancer genomics data that help predict drug response. Swiss Novartis and the Boston-based Broad Institute have combined data obtained from large-scale...



London/Lausanne – The global private equity firm Celtic Therapeutic L.L.L.P. believes in the power of antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs). It is investing $50m in a new Switzerland-based company called ADC Therapeutics Sarl which...



Basel/Vienna - Following promising results from a Phase III study, Roche has submitted a regulatory application to EMA for subcutaneous Herceptin (trastuzumab) to treat HER2-positive breast cancer. Roche said subcutaneous...



After the US Food & Drug Administration forced Swiss generics giant Sandoz AG to update its production facilities in Quebec, there are now fears that supplies of some medicines could grow tight in Canada. The regulatory authority...



The hepatitis C space has seen a string of large deals in the last weeks that include a US$11bn buyout of Pharmasset by Gilead. Now Novartis is also trying to get in the game with the purchase of a global exclusive licence from...



Allschwil – Swiss Actelion Ltd. has strengthened its commercial offerings by securing rights in certain countries to Auxilium’s biotech drug Xiaflex for treating tissue buildup under the skin. The US pharma is to receive US$10m...



Zug – Life Sciences specialist HBM partners has raised €90m in the first close of its HBM BioCapital II fund, which will invest in revenue-generating companies in the pharmaceuticals, medical device and diagnostics sectors....



Stans – Mondobiotech, a drug discovery company in troubled waters, could soon be under Italian ownership: The Swiss biotech announced it has entered into exclusive negotiations with Milan-based provider of pharmaceutical and...

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