According to the RSPCA, more than 100 million live animals, mostly mice, rats, fish and birds, are used in scientific research procedures each year. Although this is modest compared to the huge number of animals killed globally for food, which includes 50 billion chickens and 1.4 billion pigs, there is a strong drive to reduce the number of animals used in research. As well as experimentation on live animals, animal-derived materials (ADMs) are used to maintain cells cultured in-vitro.
Adoptive T cell therapies such as CAR-T cells have proven effective in treating some leukemias but have struggled to be useful in solid tumours. A recent study reported in PNAS explores a way of easily functionalizing adoptive cells so that they become decorated with a cytokine of choice. In the melanoma mouse model tested, this approach led to significantly improved efficacy.
A research article published recently in Nature suggests that, at least in some cases, reducing the amount of protein in a diet can help tip the balance in favour of normal cells and suggests ways to modify macrophages to out-compete cancer cells.
In recent years, the field of synthetic biology has emerged as a revolutionary branch of science, blending engineering principles with biology to reshape the way we understand and interact with living organisms. This groundbreaking discipline combines the power of genetics, biochemistry, and computer science to design, construct, and optimize new biological systems. With its vast potential to address critical global challenges, synthetic biology has garnered immense attention from researchers, innovators, regulators and policymakers alike.