ISTT at FELASA

13th FELASA Congress, 13-16 June, 2016 – Brussels, Belgium
Respectfully submitted by Boris Jerchow:

Together with Board members Benoît Kanzler and Branko Zevnik, I had the chance to take part in the 2016 edition of the triennial conference of the Federation of European Laboratory Science Associations (FELASA), which took place in Brussels, Belgium, between June 13 and 16. With the kind support of our members Sandra Buhl and Kristin Evans we represented ISTT with a booth. The meeting mainly covered topics important for those involved in laboratory animal science. The conference was divided into six streams:
• Governance, including reports on the transposition of 2010 EU Directive aimed at harmonizing animal welfare standards throughout Europe that has a lot of impact on our work but is still in a phase in which the new regulations are being implemented in daily routines. The stream also addressed active information of the public and ways to conduct an ethical review process. Aurora Brønstad, who also presented at TT2016 in Prague, spoke on the important topic of harm-benefit analysis of animal experiments [1, 2].
• Joint programs across Europe, including education and training, competence management, and 3Rs programs, to name just a few.
• Safety issues with a strong focus on health monitoring of aquatic, amphibian, and rodent species. Moreover, this stream included topics such as occupational health and safety and best working practices but also best practices for husbandry and care, quality of feed, water, and enrichment.

• Common diseases of humans and animals. This stream addressed disease and disease models for metabolic disease, cancer, and also infectious disease including zoonoses. It also included presentations on BLS3 facilities and research with non-human primates.
• Animal well-being emphasized the importance of using the broad understanding of what is going on inside an animal to assess and improve its well-being. The stream contained presentations and discussions about behavioral and neural science, as well as severity assessment, prospectively and also during the time when while animals are being used experimentally by employing clinical signs to recognize pain, suffering distress or lasting harm. I found the latter notably important for our community as we are the ones generating and using genetically altered (GA) animals that may well present with a condition affecting their well-being that should be taken into account before starting the experiment and closely followed during their lifetime. GA animals should also be monitored for unforeseen effects that may compromise their well-being and measures to alleviate pain, suffering, distress or lasting harm should be taken

whenever possible.
• Animal models and animal experiments. For this session I had been asked to convene a session with the title “Genetic modification – technologies and pitfalls”. Together with Ann van Soom, Tom Vanden Berghe and Lluis Montoliu, we informed the audience about the latest technologies in the field, the relevance of the non-coding genome, the threat of passenger mutations, and epigenetic effects. Other sessions in this stream discussed experimental design and reporting, how to process, share, and review acquired as well as existing data, imaging techniques, and various experimental paradigms.
In general there was a strong focus on animal welfare, especially on refinement of procedures, which was present over all streams and sessions. Much of the conference was under the influence of the still ongoing implementation of the regulations of the EU Directive on animal experimentation. Due to the importance of European scientific activities in the world, the pressure on scientific publishers to adopt higher animal welfare and reporting standards, and tight cooperation with countries outside the EU, namely the United States, these regulations will impact on animal experimentation worldwide. The same is true for health standards where FELASA guidelines have already become a gold standard. Although FELASA Conferences draw an audience quite distinct from our TT Meetings, there is a small but important overlap in interest. I am convinced that the ISTT should keep on striving to foster a vivid exchange with FELASA and the laboratory animal science community.

1. Bronstad, A., et al., Current concepts of Harm-Benefit Analysis of Animal Experiments – Report from the AALAS-FELASA Working Group on Harm-Benefit Analysis – Part 1. Lab Anim, 2016. 50(1 Suppl): p. 1-20.
2. Laber, K., et al., Recommendations for Addressing Harm-Benefit Analysis and Implementation in Ethical Evaluation – Report from the AALAS-FELASA Working Group on Harm-Benefit Analysis – Part 2. Lab Anim, 2016. 50(1 Suppl): p. 21-42.

ISTT Booth at FELASA
Benoit Kanzler, Sandra Buhl and Boris Jerchow
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Pens and futbol at the ISTT Booth

ISTT at the 55th annual CALAS meeting

On June 11-14, 2016, the ISTT hosted a booth at the 55th CALAS annual symposium that was held in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. CALAS, the Canadian Association for Laboratory Animal Science, is a national association dedicated to providing high quality training and educational resources to animal care professionals across Canada. CALAS has almost 1,000 members and supports a diverse group of animal care attendants, animal health technicians, and veterinarians. It provides training and certification programs recommended by the Canadian Council on Animal Care (CCAC). The theme of this year symposium attended by 400 participants was: “The dirt on germs: the good, the bad, the unknown”.

Marina Gertsenstein attended the meeting, both to represent the ISTT at the booth and to organize a workshop on Current Technologies in Mouse Genome Manipulations at The Centre for Phenogenomics (TCP). At the booth, ISTT information flyers describing the benefits of the membership and pens with ISTT logo were handed out. Several attendees expressed interest in becoming the members of ISTT.

The highlight of the scientific session was the talk of Dr. Kevin C. Kain, Canada Research Chair in Molecular Parasitology. In his keynote address he described his research on host-parasite interactions responsible for major global health threats such as malaria and HIV and first-hand experience with the clinical problems. This leading researcher is developing effective therapeutic interventions using animal models to determine the molecular basis for clinical outcomes of life-threatening infections and to translate this knowledge into novel therapeutic interventions.

Meeting Report respectfully submitted by Marina Gertsenstein

CALAS logoISTT @CALAS2016CALAS meeting info

TT2016 – President’s Synopsis

The opening night of TT2016 was momentous promising subsequent days filled with good friends and good science. We welcomed more than 700 delegates who attended, and then proceeded to hear a wonderful talk from Andras Nagy (2005 ISTT Prize winner). Andras’ talk was followed by a delicious buffet with wine, friends, colleagues and music. The opening proved to be an excellent portent of what was to come. Over the next three days, we heard many excellent talks—talks that encompassed the use of transgenic technologies, and especially CRISPR/Cas9 technology.

Charles Gersbach presents CRISPR/Cas9 modification of the dystrophin gene
Charles Gersbach presents CRISPR/Cas9 modification of the dystrophin gene

We heard about methods to ameliorate muscular dystrophy, to humanize large animals for xenotransplantation, to make swine resistant to an endemic disease, and to examine infertility in humans. We discussed technologies that would use epigenome to target the “regulome”, that would examine non-coding areas of the genome, that would recapitulate immune syndromes in ES cells, and that would allow us to assess phenotypic changes in embryonic lethal mutant mice using imaging. We learned both the history behind the CRISPR/Cas9 system, and newer CRISPR systems that are in development. We discussed ethics, gene drive, non-injection technologies, new injection technologies, and methods of generating many more oocytes in mice. There were seventeen abstracts chosen for full presentation, examining technological developments, large CRISPR/Cas9 initiatives, and transposon-mediated transgenesis. The remainder of the more than 125 abstract submssions were displayed throughout the meeting in the spacious poster room. Three were chosen as Poster Award winners, including Vera Jansen (Optogenetic tools to study cAMP signaling in cilia and flagella), Charles-Etienne Dumeau (Efficient method for the isolation of functional single cell from the ICM of mouse blastocyst), and Hiromi Miura (Generation of knockdown mice by CRISPR/Cas9-based targeted insertion of artificial miRNA sequence). On the last day, the ISTT Young Investigator Award (sponsored by inGenious Targeting Laboratory) was given to Pablo Ross based on his work developing ES cells in farm animals.

Charles River Representative, Iva Morse, and Jan Parker-Thornburg and Elizabeth Williams (ISTT, Inc.) present the Best Poster Awards to Vera Jansen (absent), Charlie
Iva Morse (Charles River), and Jan Parker-Thornburg and Elizabeth Williams (ISTT, Inc.) present the Best Poster Awards to Vera Jansen (absent), Charles-Etienne Dumeau, and Hiromi Miura (represented by Masato Ohtsuka).
Thomas Zeyda (inGenious Targeting Laboratory) and Jan Parker-Thornburg (ISTT President) present the Young Investigator Award to Dr. Pablo Ross, UC Davis.
Thomas Zeyda (inGenious Targeting Laboratory) and Jan Parker-Thornburg (ISTT President) present the Young Investigator Award to Dr. Pablo Ross, UC Davis.
TT2016 - Cryopreservation Workshop presentation by Lluis Montoliu.
TT2016 – Cryopreservation Workshop presentation by Lluis Montoliu.

The meeting was preceded by two workshops—one on programmable nucleases (headed by Radislav Sedlacek) and one on cryopreservation (led by Martin Fray, INFRAFRONTIER). Those who attended the workshops were very pleased with the learning opportunities that were afforded them. In addition, immediately following the meeting was one additional workshop on zebrafish transgenesis (Leads: Petr Bartunek, Zbynek Kozmik, Christian Mosimann and Graham Lieschke). All of the workshops were well-attended and greatly appreciated!

First Orbis pictus lecture given by Richard Behringer.
First Orbis pictus lecture given by Richard Behringer.

There were a number of new initiatives at TT2016. We had Orbis pictus lectures—lectures designed to use pictures and clear descriptions to demonstrate answers to a problem. Richard Behringer gave an excellent, encyclopedic presentation of methods of producing genetically modified animals in a vast variety of species. Later, Thomas Boehm described how lymphoid organs developed throughout evolution to the point where vertebrates now have a thymus. Also, for the first time, we had concurrent sessions. Delegates needed to choose whether to hear about ethics in animal use, or new injection and superovulation technologies. Overall, the scientific program was exceptional!

Departing Board members
Presentation of thank-you gifts to departing ISTT Board members – Wojtek Auerbach (absent), Boris Jerchow, and Tom Fielder.

The ISTT, Inc. held its third General Assembly just prior to the Gala Dinner. During that meeting, we sadly said goodbye to three departing Board members: Tom Fielder, Boris Jerchow and Wojtek Auerbach. We also reviewed ISTT finances, membership, committee activities, and interactions with our affiliated organizations. One new ISTT initiative that was presented was an outreach committee to our members (and non-members) who perform transgenic technologies in non-rodent (generally large-animal) species. The ISTT large animal group will be headed by Martina Crispo and Bruce Whitelaw. The meeting ended with a presentation inviting membership to attend TT2017 in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA, hosted by Susan Tamowski.

A wonderful time at the Zofin Palace.
A wonderful time at the Zofin Palace.

The social program prepared by our Czech colleagues was also amazing. Delegates enjoyed the opening buffet with traditional Czech music. However, it was the Gala Dinner that proved to be the high point of the social program. The Zofin Palace was full with partygoers. The wine flowed freely, the food was wonderful, and the string quartet (plus clarinet) fantastic as well. Overall, TT2016 can be considered as one of the best TT meetings ever, and I am proud, as ISTT President, that we helped to host such a wonderful meeting. Thanks so very much to the organizers—Radislav Sedlacek, Inken Beck and Nicole Chambers. Due to their amazing work, the ISTT has again had a successful TT meeting!

Report on the 2nd Oceania Transgenic Technology/Cryopreservation Symposium

2nd oceania symposium

The 2nd Oceania Transgenic Technology and Cryopreservation Symposium was held at the University of Tasmania’s Medical Sciences Precinct, Hobart, Australia on the 18th-19th of November, 2015. The meeting was a great success with for 48 participants from 23 research institutions across Australia, New Zealand, Japan and the USA and with the support of 9 sponsoring companies. The Organising Committee comprised of: Paul Scowen-chair and host (UTAS), Elizabeth Williams (University of Queensland Biological Resources), Kevin Taylor (Australian BioResources,) Irma Villaflor (Children’s Medical Research Institute, Westmead), Tanya Templeton (Australian Phenomics Network, Monash) and Karen Brennan (Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute). Once again, it provided an opportunity for networking, for keeping up to date with the latest developments in transgenic technologies and for sharing knowledge through expertise, round table discussions and hands-on experience.

Highlights of the Programme:

The symposium began with a warm welcome from the host, Paul Scowen, and quickly moved on, beginning with a session of talks related to assisted reproduction techniques and their applications. Dr. Toru Takeo (Kumamoto University, Japan) , started by showing that ‘ultra-ovulation’ of female mice through the administration of a novel anti-serum (soon available as a commercial product) allows for consistent collection of a large number of usable oocytes from a single mouse. Combined with the IVF media products developed by the same group, mouse IVF techniques are now even further enhanced. Elizabeth Williams (UQBR) demonstrated that the CARD embryo vitrification technique can be adapted to use either straws or vials as the cryostorage vessel, allowing facilities to update their freezing techniques without having to change their liquid nitrogen storage equipment. An entertaining presentation was delivered by Prof. John McLaughlin, showing that cryovials can be easily converted with the new ‘Cryofork spatula’ to allow for easy vitrification of embryos in small media volumes. Rodrick Rupan described the challenges faced in rederiving immunodeficient colonies and how they were overcome. Continuing the rederivation and IVF theme, Mary-anne Migotto explained how UQBR have used IVF techniques to offer a rapid and large scale rederivation service. Tanya Templeton expanded upon her talk from the first Oceania symposium, giving an update on developments in ICSI technique and use of piezo methodology at Monash University. The session concluded with Julie Stanley’s talk on sperm cryopreservation at WEHI.

 

The second session covered various aspects of rodent health screening, biosecurity, monitoring, risk assessment and challenges when dealing with genetically modified mice models. Dr Trasti presented key concepts for a rodent sentinel program, establishing exclusion criteria, sample collection, interpretation of report and preparation of an action plan in case of an outbreak situation. Dr Villaflor discussed recommendations on which pathogens to monitor, issues with working with humanized immune deficient mice, quality control system and her experiences with adapting the latest trend in laboratory animal health monitoring programs. Dr Stevenson shared his insights on an appropriate scoring system for determining what agents and factors pose a risk to animal facilities housing genetically modified animals.

 

The third and final session of the day covered aspects of quality control. Sue Raboczyj (UQBR) and John Swift (OHIO) explained clearly the Quality Assurance and Control requirements for operating transgenic facilities with multiple clients, and ensuring the ongoing maintenance of a growing archive of cryopreserved material. Dr. Takeo also presented the methods used to establish a robust infrastructure at CARD (Kumamoto University). The day concluded with a personal account of undergoing the NATA accreditation process from Barbara Hunt (ANU).

Day 2 began with an extremely informative session on CRISPR technology. Kevin Taylor began with a talk on the introduction to CRISPR, the theory behind its evolution, the applications and advances based on his experiences at ABR in Moss Vale. Kevin also mentioned about the new refinements such as SCR7 and also briefly talked about electroporation. Fabien Delerue (UNSW) reported on the traditional methods utilised for creating knock-outs versus CRISPR/Cas9 and followed on with details of some of the projects that he is undertaking at UNSW and what he has done to refine how he carries out his projects being that he is a small outfit. Sandie Piltz’s work at the University of Adelaide is one of the pioneering Australian groups to start working with this technology, she discussed her personal experience with this methodology and what they have done to refine the technique, such as donor strains and ages, recipient strains, needle parameters, injection reagents and concentrations, environmental influences and superovulation techniques. Fiona Waters (WEHI) gave an introduction on the CRISPR/Cas9 methodology and then launched into the experiences from the WEHI team on how they have utilised and transferred their skills to this technique and the refinements they have made. Dirk Truman (APN) talked about the services that the APN provides, their efficiencies and that it is one of the first non-for-profit services offering this type of genome editing to Australian Researchers. Dirk also discussed the different species that are being used for this type of genome editing, off target effects, and what APN has done to refine the technique. The last talk for this session, Michelle Brownlee (ABR), talked about the day in the life of a microinjectionist. She discussed the strains of mice used, superovulation techniques, injection techniques, embryo transfer methods, refinements and troubleshooting.

The following session encompassed the administration and training aspects of working in a transgenic animal facility. Tracy Doan (UQBR) gave an overview of the database systems used and administrative support provided to help coordinate the cryopreservation and rederivation services at the Transgenic Animal Service of Queensland. Kevin Taylor (ABR) and Keri Smith (UTas) presented their respective training programs based on structure which also opened up lively discussions on different training opportunities offered in various institutions and suggestions to meet training needs of staff members. Dr David Steele who is Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) Chairman at the University of Tasmania, outlined the structure and important role and function of the IBC, including dealing with GMOs when conducting research in accordance with legislation, codes of practice and licensing requirements.

It is envisioned that future meetings will serve to strengthen our collaboration efforts with colleagues from various institutions doing the same type of work.

LASA Winter Meeting – Genome Editing Session

Meeting Report by Mary-Ann Haskings, 25 November, 2015

It was a cold, sunny day in Brighton, UK for the LASA Winter meeting and we were pleased to see several ISTT members attending the meeting. The talks reflected on recent work involving genome editing across a breadth of species: mouse, zebrafish, opossum and discussion of use in humans.

There were some common themes across the talks and some newer approaches such as testis electroporation highlighted. The occurrence of mosaicism was discussed lengthily. The use of the NHEJ inhibitor SCR7 was another hot topic, with multiple speakers reporting that their experience suggested that there was little gain in using it. Comparisons were shown between Cas9 mRNA and protein; also the use of transgenic mice overexpressing Cas9 was reported. The possibility of reproducing better models of multi locus disease was recognised by several presenters.

The afternoon session focused on the ethical considerations of the technology, with the reminder that while it may well cause a reduction in numbers as we refine the production of genetically altered animals, the ease and efficiency of the technology may actually lead to a rise in the numbers of animals being used.

We closed with a round table discussion giving the audience the opportunity to ask any questions of our speakers. We need to thank all our speakers and our fantastic chairs Brendan Doe and Sarah Hart Johnson who helped the day to run so smoothly.

Report from the AALAS 66th National Meeting, Phoenix, Arizona, 1-5 November, 2015

The International Society for Transgenic Technologies was represented at the AALAS National Meeting this year by ISTT President Jan Parker-Thornburg, ISTT Administrator Pat Arubaleze, and ISTT’s AALAS Representative Melissa Larson. Jan and Pat set up the ISTT booth in the Affiliates section of the vendor hall on Sunday, exhibiting posters, membership literature and information regarding TT2016 in Prague. Literature was also available advertising the new online Transgenic Course for the AALAS Learning Library, written by ISTT members. The booth was manned by Jan, Pat and Melissa over the next three days, and they answered questions and provided membership information to over 32 people who stopped by to chat, including several ISTT members. The ISTT was also represented at the Affiliates Breakfast, which affords each affiliate the opportunity to discuss their organization, share updates and highlight upcoming events.

AALAS 2015ISTT President Dr. Jan Parker-Thornburg chats with FELASA (Federation of European Animal Science Associations) Past- President Dr. Jan-Bas Prins at the ISTT booth, while ISTT Administrator Pat Arubaleze looks on at the AALAS National Meeting 2015.

Meeting Report: Advances in the Generation of Genetically Modified (GM) Animal Models

Montevideo participants The International Course and Mini-Symposium: Advances in the Generation of Genetically Modified (BM) Animal Models, hosted by Martina Crispo and Alejo Menchaca was held in Montevideo, Uruguay from 7-18 September, 2015. This is the first time this combined course and workshop was held, and it was a resounding success. This meeting was co-sponsored by the ISTT, Inc.

More than 60 people attended during the two weeks of the Course, including participants from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Australia, Saudi Arabia, Spain, USA, France, Greece, Japan and, of course, Uruguay. The activities were so successful that speakers and participants requested to repeat it next year.

Here are some phrases of acknowledgment from the speakers and students:

“Martina, Alejo,

Fantastic work on everything you have done: course organization, parties! Thanks so much for you never ending hospitality!

Un fuerte abrazo,

Jorge”

************************

“Martina,

You and Alejo put up an AMAZING symposium, and I believe it created very strong interactions between all participants. You should be praised for what you did. There aren¹t many organised seminars where professional relationships end up as friendships! If I can be of any assistance in the future, please let me know. It would be a blessing to help you in any way. This trip was an unforgettable experience.

Take care.

Fabien”

*************************

“Dear colleagues,

 

During the last two weeks (5 to 18 September 2015), Martina Crispo and Alejo Menchaca, along with members of their teams at the Institut Pasteur de Montevideo and the Instituto de Reproduccion Animal de Uruguay, respectively, organized the International Course and Symposium on Advances in the Generation of Genetically Modified (GM) Animal Models, where I had the pleasure to participate along with several other colleagues and friends.

Thanks Martina and Alejo for the organization of this symposium and course!


Lluis”

*************************

As organizers, we thank the ISTT for your support and hope you will be present for next editions of this course! Please have a look at our detailed meeting report online now in Transgenic Research.

Best,

Martina & AlejoUruguay Meeting Report 425px

Uruguay Meeting ReportMontevideo workshop

MEETING REPORT. TRANSGENIC ANIMALS AND GENETIC ENGINEERING TECHNIQUES.

The international meeting Transgenic Animals and Genetic Engineering Techniques (http://www.trm.univ-nantes.fr) was held on July 2–3 2015 in Nantes, France. This event, organized by the Transgenic Rats ImmunoPhenomic (TRIP) Nantes facility (http://www.tgr.nantes.inserm.fr) and co-sponsored by the ISTT, gathered around 100 participants from France, as well as other European countries, Japan and the USA.

The meeting gave participants the opportunity to update information on techniques and models in transgenesis and genetic engineering. The meeting encouraged students and scientists to expand their knowledge on the potential applications of new techniques to their own models or to apply them to related pathophysiological models for analysis of genes or diseases using genetically modified animals.

Thanks to the organizers and presenters for having made this fifth edition again a huge success!

We invite you to read the report recently published online in Transgenic Research (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26358113) [authors: Séverine Ménoret, Laurent Tesson, Séverine Remy, Claire Usal, Laure-Hélène Ouisse, Lucas Brusselle, Vanessa Chenouard, Tuan H. Nguyen, Laurent David and Ignacio Anegon].

Screen Shot 2015-09-18 at 09.28.50

TARC X Meeting Report

20150809_084915 20150817_103359 20130810_163007Tahoe City, California, USA

August 9 – 13, 2015

“What if . . . we had cows that did not have horns? We do! This is a naturally-occurring mutation, and these are called “polled” (or, hornless) cows. This is a great benefit to the cattle industry, as this reduces the amount of trauma that cows can cause each other. Unfortunately, there are only a few types of cows that contain the mutation causing the polled phenotype. Other cows must have their horns removed to safely interact with each other in groups and their handlers. You can see that this type of “surgery” could also cause animal welfare issues.

But, what if we could transfer the naturally-occurring mutation from one type of cow to another? This can be accomplished by breeding the mutation into non-polled cattle. Keeping in mind that the time for gestation in cattle is 9 months, and then the time to sexual maturity could be another one to one and a half years, the time needed to do the number of crosses to generate this mutation in a new strain of cattle could be significant—one breeder’s lifetime. But (again, another “but”), what if we could introduce this mutation in a single generation by genetic engineering and leave no footprint behind—just this ONE MUTATION. It is now possible to do this using the CRISPR/Cas9 system; one could introduce the mutation and carefully characterize the animals that result to insure that there are no additional changes in the genome—no footprints. You could argue that this would be incredibly beneficial for animal welfare issues and for the benefit of those who care for these animals.”

This is the type of discussion that can result, based on the research presented at the Tenth Transgenic Animal Research Conference (TARC X) [http://www.cevs.ucdavis.edu/confreg/?confid=732] just completed in Lake Tahoe, California, USA. The discussions and talks centered around transgenic animals other than mice, including cows, sheep, goats and pigs, as well as avians (chickens), rabbits, and even mosquitoes! An especially valuable addition to the signature 10th Conference was the inclusion of reviews of different aspects of the technology given at the start of each session.

In the first session, Dr. Jim Murray (UC Davis, USA) reviewed how genetically engineered livestock have been developed for agriculture since the first TARC meeting in 1997. This was closely followed by a talk from Maeve Ballantyne (Roslin Institute, Scotland) about their efforts to engineer resilience to African swine fever into pigs. This disease is rapidly spreading from Africa throughout Eastern Europe. Thus, this type of genetic engineering could be critical for maintaining the health of swine herds. The following talk by Jayne Raper (CUNY, USA), was a natural extension in this session, discussing how genes encoding resistance to trypanosomiasis in non-human primates could be moved into sheep and cattle. The expectation is that such genes are critical for maintaining the health of these herds throughout Africa.

The second session was devoted to new technologies for genome engineering. It started with an excellent review from Bruce Whitelaw (Roslin Institute, Scotland). His review showed how the initial slow progress in generating precisely mutated animals has become much more rapid with the introduction of genome editing. The promise of this technology was soon demonstrated by Mark Tizard (CSIRO, Australia), who described efforts to edit the genome of poultry, and by Bhanu Teluga (University of Maryland, USA), who described his highly efficient CRISPR/Cas targeted genome editing in pigs.

After an afternoon break for hiking, shopping, boating and general fun in Lake Tahoe, there was a late afternoon poster session with submissions from throughout the world. After dinner, the evening session began with a talk from Pablo Ross (UC Davis). Pablo reviewed how pluripotent stem cells have been used to generate targeted livestock, and tantalized the audience with a promise of an upcoming publication describing a new media for growth of pluripotent stem cells from large animals, hopefully capable of generating chimeras and germline transmission. This was closely followed by talks from Franklin West (Univ. of Georgia, USA) and Jorge Piedrahita (NCSU, USA) about the use of stem cells in both pigs and chickens.

The second full day of the meeting was begun with a review by Chris Rogers (Exemplar Genetics, USA) on how genetically engineered livestock have been developed for biomedical models. Simon Bawden (SARI, AU) reported how Huntington’s disease has been recreated in sheep. This was followed by a talk from Lydia Garas (UC Davis, USA) about lysozyme transgenic goats whose milk can be used to prevent and treat intestinal diseases. After a short break, Mingjun Liu (China) described how the sheep FGF5 and MSTN genes have been altered using CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing. The final talk of the morning was from Margareth Capurro (Univ. of Sao Paulo, Brazil), where she captivated the audience with her description of the methods used to gain acceptance for release of GE mosquitoes to reduce the incidence of dengue fever in one Brazilian village. Margareth finished her talk with a most memorable jingle used as a public service announcement!

The Tuesday afternoon session was composed of talks from Eddie Sullivan (SABBiotherapeutics, USA) about the generation of humanized antibodies produced in cows, and from Lissa Herron (Roslin Institute, Scotland) about the isolation of pharmaceutical proteins from avian egg whites. These talks were then followed by an enthusiastic review from Tim Doran (CSIRO, AU) where he surveyed the advances made in engineering of the avian genome. A number of conference attendees added to their notoriety by being listed in his “Hall of Fame”! The final talk on Tuesday, given by Marie-Cecile van de Lavoir (Crystal Biosciences, USA), described the generation of transgenic chickens carrying Cre-recombinase, which can be used to delete selectable markers in vivo.

The final day of the regular conference began with a review by Kevin Wells (Univ. of Missouri, USA) of the regulations governing genetic engineered animals and the food supply. He emphasized that, in the US, while there are regulations that apply, there have not been laws passed that oversee this area, and he called for the preparation of a “white paper” by the experts in the field to advise the US government. His talk was followed by a presentation of the “Glo-fish”@ experience with obtaining US approval given by Alan Blake (Yorktown Technologies, USA). William Muir (Purdue Univ., USA) then presented his statistical model (Hazard Assessment at Critical Control Points, or HAACP) that can assess environmental risk of GE animals based on net fitness of the organism, demonstrating its effectiveness in an experiment on a model organism. He then showed its application to the Aquabounty@ salmon currently awaiting approval, showing that the fear of an accidental release is irrelevant, as the GE salmon would quickly be eliminated from the population.

The next session had talks from Jun Wu (Salk Institute, USA) on the development of pluripotent stem cells, and their use in the pig to generate humanized organs for transplant; and from Hiro Nakauchi (Stanford Univ., USA) on exploiting an “organ niche” by injecting pluripotent stem cells from one organism (rat) into another, deficient organism (Pdx1-/- mouse) to generate a xenogenic pancreas. He is now testing this process in pigs as well.

Attendees were then given another welcome afternoon off to play in the surrounding area, where there is ample opportunity for boating, biking and hiking. This being the final day of the regular conference, everyone truly welcomed this last chance to enjoy the lake and surrounding mountains.

The final session of the meeting began (after another poster session and dinner) with a review given by Heiner Niemann (Hannover, Germany), where he spoke about the use of pigs as xeno-donors for human organs. He described three major hurdles to this scenario, including immune responses, physiological incompatibilities, and the risk of transmitting zoonotic organisms. His own work is an attempt to modify the immune response by humanizing several candidate genes.

The last talk of the meeting was from Alison Van Eenennaam (UC-Davis, USA) about how the technology has progressed but the acceptance of transgenic food animals has not over the past twenty years that TARC meetings have been held. She made an eloquent request that scientists take the time to explain and assure the public that genetic engineering technology can be safe and assist the world with developing a healthy, sustainable food supply. The scientific portion of the meeting then ended with the presentation of the poster award (sponsored by the Roslin Institute) to Dorothea Aumann (Munich, Germany) for her poster on “Analyzing gamma/delta T-cell function in chicken by reverse genetics”. The award presentation was followed by a discussion of how to advance the regulatory environment.

An optional Livestock Industry Day was held the following day, 14 August, 2015, where various company representatives could share their work, interact with attending scientists, and have another enjoyable day in Lake Tahoe. All in all, it was a very informative, interesting, and pleasurable meeting. Granlibakken Conference Center [http://www.granlibakken.com], The UC Davis Department of Animal Science [http://animalscience.ucdavis.edu], Drs. Jim Murray, Elizabeth Maga, Alison Van Eenennaam and Pablo Ross should be commended for their hard work in producing such a successful gathering. The next meeting will be held August 13-17, 2017—please plan on attending!

 

 

Respectfully submitted by:
Jan Parker-Thornburg, with editing from Walter Tsark and Jim Murray

IMM2015-Leiden, June 11-12, 2015-A Short Meeting Report

IMM2015-Leiden, June 11-12, 2015-A Short Meeting Report
IMM2015-Leiden, June 11-12, 2015-A Short Meeting Report

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!
Benoît Kanzler