Biomanufacturing

David Schaffer Harnesses 'Directed Evolution' for Gene Therapy

March 18, 2021

David Schaffer

David Schaffer, Hertz Fellow, gene therapy researcher, and The Hubbard Howe Jr. Distinguished Professor of Biochemical Engineering at UC Berkeley says he “plays Darwin” in his Berkeley lab, using high throughput genetic sequencing technology to test over a billion genetic samples for the desired biological activity. 

The power of change in science

March 9, 2020

women trailblazers

Guided by CRISPR pioneer Jennifer Doudna, a formidable entrepreneur in her own right, C&EN profiled 15 women working in the Chemical industry in academics and startups in C&EN's 2020 Trailblazers. Four of them are affiliated with UC Berkeley's College of Chemistry. They have collectively launched more than 30 start-ups aimed at developing treatments for rare diseases, building better batteries, and more. They’re chemical scientists at the top of their game. They’re role models building and mentoring teams. And yes, they’re badasses. They live by the motto “Nobody ever got anywhere by listening to no.”

Can beer yeast be used to create THC and CBD?

December 31, 2019

sconverting yeast into THC and CBD

In a paper published earlier this year in the journal Nature, scientists explain the process in which they are using yeasts to manufacture cannabis compounds. These test tube shenanigans are being conducted more as a way for scientists to gain a better understanding of THC and CBD rather than a means for bypassing the cannabis plant in one’s quest for buzz or therapeutic benefits.

Why this UC Berkeley gene therapy spinout is targeting a $100 million IPO

October 9, 2019
David Schaffer

The company, called 4D Molecular Therapeutics Inc., doesn't expect to put its first three experimental single-shot cures for a range of diseases into clinical trials until next year. Yet it already has key partnerships with well-known drug makers Roche, AstraZeneca plc and gene therapy pioneer uniQure NV. Founders David Schaffer, The Hubbard Howe Jr. Distinguished Professor of Biochemical Engineering, and Dr. David Kirn have worked on so-called "viral vectors" — the protein shells ridden by viruses to skip through the body — since before the company was formed in 2013. In gene therapy, those vehicles are engineered to remove the disease-triggering part of a virus and used instead to carry correct versions of genes to replace mutated genes.

Jay Keasling talks to Japan's NHK World about Synthetic Biology

August 14, 2019

Richmond Sarpong

Jay Keasling, Professor, Department of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering and JBEI’s Chief Executive Officer, was featured in NHK World’s interview program “Direct Talk”. Keasling, a pioneer of synthetic biology, talks about the impact that this interdisciplinary technology can have in people’s lives as well as addresses its safety concerns.

Researchers team up to create a drug sponge to absorb excess chemotherapy medication

March 15, 2019

Steven Hetts, MD, UCSFA research team from UCSF, UC Berkeley and 3D Printer Carbon, Inc. have created a drug sponge to absorb excess chemotherapy medication. The sponge is being designed so that after the chemotherapy has gone through the tumor, the part that hasn't treated the tumor could bind to the device, absorbing the excess dose like a "drug sponge." At the end of the procedure, the device is removed from the body, preventing the spread of toxicity throughout the body. "

Yeast produce low-cost, high-quality cannabinoids

February 27, 2019

Scientists in the lab of Jay Keasling grow marijuana chemicals using yeast UC Berkeley synthetic biologists have engineered brewer’s yeast to produce marijuana’s main ingredients—mind-altering THC and non-psychoactive CBD—as well as novel cannabinoids not found in the plant itself. Medical research on the more than 100 other chemicals in marijuana has been difficult, because the chemicals occur in tiny quantities, making them hard to extract from the plant. Inexpensive, purer sources—like yeast—could make such studies easier.

Tampering with cellular fats holds great promise

November 2, 2018

Tampering with cellular fats

Now, researchers from the Department of Energy's Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI), Berkeley Lab, and the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability at Technical University of Denmark (DTU Biosustain) have found a way to engineer the fatty membranes of cells. The researchers boosted the cells' ability to produce high amounts of fluid fats, so-called unsaturated lipids. This increased the membrane respiration as well as the cellular growth rate.

From cyclotrons to wetsuits: A brief history of UC Berkeley’s scientific endeavors

August 13, 2018

Jay Kealsing Over the past 150 years, UC Berkeley has been at the forefront of scientific discovery, achieving milestones that have impacted both the research industry and the surrounding community.