Plan to attend the 10th Transgenic Animal Research Conference (TARC X) in August of 2015. At this international meeting you will learn the latest developments in the field of non-murine transgenic animals. In celebration of the 10th conference in this series the program will contain nine review talks, to be published in a special issue of Transgenic Research. Once again the conference will be held at the beautiful Granlibakken Resort and Conference Center, high in the Sierra Nevada Mountains adjacent to beautiful Lake Tahoe. This meeting is co-sponsored by the ISTT.
Rooms are limited, so plan to register early. The conference web site opened February 1, 2015 for registrations and submission of poster abstracts. The following list of speakers confirms again that this is conference not to be missed. Additionally, in conjunction with Recombinetics, Inc there will be a special one day program on August 13th for the livestock, poultry and aquaculture industries on the application of GE animals. A list of confirmed speakers and topics, as well as additional information, registration and poster submission forms may be found on the conference web site (http://conferences.ucdavis.edu/transgenic). We invite you to join us for this interesting and important conference and learn more about the genetic future of the livestock industry.
Elizabeth Maga/Jim Murray (UC Davis) GE livestock for agriculture
Chris Rogers (Exemplar Genetics) GE livestock for biomedical models
Heiner Niemann (Hannover) Xenotransplantation
Tim Doran (CSIRO, Australia) GE Poultry
Pablo Ross (UC Davis) iPS/Stem cells
Jun Wu (Salk Institute) Organ complementation
Bruce Whitelaw (Edinburgh) Gene editing/gene targeting
Luciana Bertolini (Brazil) Production of pharmaceuticals
Kevin Wells (Missouri) Regulation of transgenic animals
On June 11-12, the 8th Workshop on Innovative Mouse Models (IMM2015) was held in the Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, Netherlands. This biannual meeting brings together a diverse group of researchers interested in developing and exploiting mouse models to study fundamental developmental processes and to mimic human disease. Featuring the most recent advances on transgenic animal technology, this meeting encourages in-depth discussions in a very open way, accessible for young and senior scientists. The local organizers proposed a very attractive program composed of 11 keynote lectures, 10 oral selected presentations and a forum discussion on the impact of new transgenic technology advances. About 150 scientists shared data, frustrations and promising future designs of recent transgenic approaches, particularly exploring the future and limits of the extremely powerful CRISPR/Cas9 system for genome editing. Also discussed were improved mouse reproductive technologies (sperm cryopreservation, embryo production…), novel imaging-technologies and a new and very efficient way of delivering native proteins.
Sjef Verbeek, initiator of the IMM worshops, opened the workshop with a warm welcome for all participants and expressed his gratitude to all the sponsors: Innoser, the International Society for Transgenic Technologies (ISTT), Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC) and The Netherlands Cancer Institute (NKI).
While we were proud to notice that many participants were already ISTT members, we believe that our presence there as a sponsor with a booth could convince many more to take THE step forward and join our society, as well as join us at our next TTMeeting in Prague (TT2016, 20-23 March 2016)! Yes, the ISTT booth attracted many scientists interested in our role and activities and has definitely been a central meeting point of IMM2015!
Genetic engineering in animals is a process that has engendered great excitement as well as great anxiety. The technology is used to study developmental processes (using small animals such as the mouse, zebra fish, fruit fly, worm, etc.), determine gene function, and mimic human and animal disease processes. Perhaps the greatest promises of this technology are to develop and test drugs and to perform gene therapy, both of which are intended to prevent or cure disease.
Until recently, a variety of limitations made the technology impractical for all but a few species of animals (primarily mice). However, with the advent of new gene-editing systems, where components are inexpensive, readily generated in the laboratory, and applicable to virtually any species, it is now feasible to perform genetic engineering in the human embryo. Changes made in an embryo brought to term would no longer be confined to that individual, but could be passed through the germline to affect future generations.
A recent publication [Liang, P. et al. Protein Cellhttp://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s13238-015-0153-5 (2015)] brought this reality squarely into the public consciousness. In this study, the CRISPR/Cas9 system was used to edit the genome of human embryos. To their credit, the authors were careful to use only non-viable embryos. Furthermore, their detailed examination of the engineered embryos revealed both the intended and unintended modifications that resulted. This study clearly demonstrates that the CRISPR/Cas9 system is currently too imprecise and inefficient for genetic engineering of human embryos for implantation, gestation and birth.
Members of the ISTT use CRISPR/Cas9 technology, as well as other gene-editing technologies, routinely. Many of our members have had integral roles in the development of these technologies and therefore recognize the power of these systems. It is with that knowledge and foresight that the ISTT Board of Directors issues this statement (while understanding that more nuanced discussions and decisions will be needed as the technology improves):
Genetic engineering technology, in its current state, is error-prone and must not be used in human embryos intended for implantation.
Studies to test new genetic engineering technology in human embryos should be postponed until proven completely safe and effective in other species.
New methods of genetic engineering must be carefully assessed to ensure that risk to the human population is negligible.
Uses of genetic engineering in human embryos should be limited to disease mitigation for those diseases where no other option is available; we reject the idea of “designer babies.”
We strongly urge worldwide agreement on minimum standards for gene editing experiments in human embryos, and will promote such measures with our members. Until such standards have been established, we remain opposed to making any genetic alterations in human embryos that could be inherited by future generations.