The Vector

Volume 10, Issue 12: December 2021


Editorial Team

Edith Pfister, Ph.D. – Editor, The Vector
Karen Bulaklak, Ph.D. – Associate Editor, The Vector
Jon Brudvig, Ph.D. – Junior Editor, The Vector

Inside This Issue

Leadership Message
Breaking Through
From Molecular Therapy
Society News
Career Center
Public Policy
Industry News

Leadership Message


What Your Membership Helped Us Accomplish in 2021 


Hello ASGCT Members,

It’s hard to believe we’re at the end of 2021 already, and I’m happy to report that ASGCT has had a very successful year. Highlights include i) the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines (which many of our own members have researched for decades), ii) the launch of our new Diversity and Inclusion Awards and Professional Development Cafés, iii) holding our second virtual Annual Meeting and Policy Summit, iv) the expansion of our global and Patient Education programs and v) hosting IOVC. I’m very proud of what the team at ASGCT together with scientific leadership has accomplished this year. As we approach 2021's end know that we are truly grateful for your efforts as part of the ASGCT team working to advance our mission and the field of gene and cell therapy. And stay tuned for 2022, where we have exciting new programming to present.

To ensure continued access to our current and upcoming initiatives, please remember to renew your membership, which will enable access to various programming events such as our Professional Development Café archive and registration discounts for the Annual Meeting. Members can submit their research for publication consideration in the highly regarded Molecular Therapy family of journals, or you can nominate yourself or other members to standing or scientific committees to help shape future Society programming alongside your peers. 

Also - don't forget to submit an abstract by February 2, 2022 for possible presentation at the Annual Meeting this spring! Show us what you’ve been working on and and come learn what others in the field have to say at this in-person event in Washington, D.C.! We’re all excited to be together again and learn from your innovative research.

Finally, please take some time to rest and reflect this holiday season, and we'll see you in 2022!

 

Happy Holidays,

Beverly L. Davidson, PhD
ASGCT President

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Breaking Through


Debulking SARS-CoV-2 in Saliva Using Angiotensin Converting Enzyme 2 in Chewing Gum to Decrease Oral Virus Transmission and Infection 

Daniell H, Nair SK, Esmaeili N, Wakade G, Shahid N, Ganesan PK, Islam MR, Shepley-McTaggart A, Feng S, Gary EN, Ali AR, Nuth M, Cruz SN, Graham-Wooten J, Streatfield SJ, Montoya-Lopez R, Kaznica P, Mawson M, Green BJ, Ricciardi R, Milone M, Harty RN, Wang P, Weiner DB, Margulies KB, Collman RG

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ymthe.2021.11.008

Summary by Edith Pfister, PhD

SARS-CoV-2 is transmitted via droplets and aerosols of respiratory fluids. People expel respiratory fluids while coughing, sneezing, talking, and breathing. Transmission can occur via inhalation or contact of infectious particles with mucus membranes, as is the case when someone sneezes or coughs, creating a splashing effect. The risk of contracting the virus increases when a person is exposed to larger amounts of virus. Newly evolved variants of SARS-CoV-2 are associated with higher viral loads. Therefore, treatments that decrease the viral load in saliva could reduce viral transmission. Indeed, various oral rinses are being evaluated for their antiviral capabilities. But what if fighting SARS-CoV-2 was just a matter of chewing some gum? A new paper by Daniell et al. explores this approach.

Prior to Covid-19 the group led by Daniell was exploring oral delivery of Cholera toxin B and angiotensin Converting Enzyme 2 (CTB-ACE2) and its product angiotensin-(1-7) for treatment of pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). To facilitate this, they expressed the proteins in lettuce chloroplasts. Lettuce plants can then be harvested, the plants lyophilized, and the powder delivered orally. As luck would have it, the CTB-ACE2 product can be repurposed to targeted SARS-CoV-2. SARS-CoV-2 enters cells using the ACE2 receptor and binds to various acidic glycans, including GM1. Therefore CTB-ACE2 binds both the GM1 receptor (via CTB) and the ACE2 receptor. The authors hypothesized that by blocking the receptors and binding to the spike protein, CTB-ACE2 could both prevent viral entry and reduce viral load.

To prepare chewing gum, the authors mixed the lettuce powder with a gum base. They then proceeded to test the gum’s ability to inhibit spike mediated viral entry and to reduce SARS-CoV-2 in saliva and nasopharyngeal samples. As hoped, incubation with the gum reduced infection in vitro and lowered the amount of SARS-CoV-2 detectable in patient samples. This is an interesting approach with a fair amount more work to be done, but I know I certainly would be interested in a plant-based gum that could reduce viral transmission.

From Molecular Therapy


Molecular Therapy—Methods and Clinical Development call for papers: Submit a paper to a special issue on evidence generation and reproducibility in cell and gene therapy research. Learn more about this special issue by reading this editorial and submit a paper by April 30, 2022.

Check out the latest issue of Molecular Therapy here, and don't miss the most recent content from other issues in the MT family:


 

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Society News


Send Us Your Abstracts for Presentation at #ASGCT22

Submitting an abstract provides you with the opportunity to present your research in front of thousands of gene and cell therapy professionals live at the Annual Meeting, the premier event in the field. In addition to being able to discuss your work with your peers, you can also get published in a supplement to Molecular Therapy, earn awards for high-scoring research, or register for the meeting for free if you're a first and presenting author. Submit through Feb. 2, 2022!

Renew Your Membership to Maintain Benefits Through 2022

If you want to continue to receive exclusive membership benefits, renew your ASGCT membership today! Membership allows you to serve on committees with your peers, stay up-to-date on the latest research in Molecular Therapy, receive discounts for events like the Annual Meeting, and more. Renew quickly online so you don't lose access to these benefits in 2022.

Expand Your CAR T-Cell Therapy Knowledge for Free

Register for "How To" with CAR T-Cell Therapy, our next free Professional Development Café on Jan. 21. The two-hour event will include a short introduction about gene therapy and continue into a structured discussion about CAR T-cell therapy. Sign up now to join us.

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Career Center


Are you looking for a job in the field of gene and cell therapy? Check out the new ASGCT Career Center for great opportunities with industry, government, and academic organizations. Sign up to receive alerts for open jobs in your area.

If you're from a recruiting institution, advertise in the Featured Jobs section to target the 4,000+ audience of The Vector.

Featured Jobs

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Public Policy


Society-Recommended Provisions Included in Cures 2.0

ASGCT has engaged since 2019 with Reps. Fred Upton (R-MI) and Diana DeGette (D-CO) on language for a bipartisan Cures 2.0 legislative package, leading this month to introduction of H.R.6000. ASGCT submitted comments in August outlining our recommendations on a number of topics related to regulatory policy and patient access. Many of the Society’s recommendations are reflected in the introduced text, including support for additional funding for the development of medical breakthroughs, such as those related to gene and cell therapies, through establishment of an Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H) and provisions on expedited regulatory pathways including the Regenerative Medicine Advanced Therapy (RMAT) designation.

For a more in-depth breakdown of the Cures 2.0 bill, subscribe to ASGCT’s The Advocate, a monthly newsletter highlighting Society policy and advocacy efforts to advance gene and cell therapies. In the meantime, you can read a section-by-section breakdown of the bill’s contents here

Bipartisan Bill Encourages State Medicaid Coverage of Genetic Testing and Screening

This month Reps. Eric Swalwell (D-CA), Scott Peters (D-CA), and Tom Emmer (R-MN) introduced the Precision Medicine Answers for Kids Today Act, H.R.5989, to encourage state Medicaid programs to cover genetic and genomic sequencing tests including whole genome sequencing, whole exome sequencing, and gene panels. The act was incorporated as part of Cures 2.0 and encompasses whichever type of diagnostic test a clinician deems necessary to accurately diagnose individual patients. Increasing consistent approaches to Medicaid coverage across states could improve timely diagnosis, and therefore treatment, of genetic diseases, which is one of ASGCT’s patient access priorities.

In addition to supporting specific legislation, ASGCT engages with individual legislators to share information about gene and cell therapies and offer the Society’s expert members as a resource on topics like scientific development, research funding, patient access, and regulatory policy. To that end, ASGCT met with Rep. Emmer’s staff in November to introduce the Society and outline our policy priorities. As co-chair of the congressional Precision Medicine Caucus and now a co-sponsor of the Precision Medicine Answers for Kids Today Act, ASGCT will continue to engage with Rep. Emmer and all other interested legislators to promote positive policies that advance the gene and cell therapy field.

Industry News


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2022

ASGCT 25th Annual Meeting

May 16-19, 2022

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