Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News (GEN) has a new podcast series called Touching Base. Senior Editors from GEN discuss emerging stories, debate trends and share ideas--and also talk with preeminent leaders in the industry for hints on what is happening now, and in the future. Episode 1 (Autism, AI and Epigenetics; Nevan Krogan) featured Nevan Krogan (UCSF and director of the Quantitative Biosciences Institute [QBI]) was broadcast the week of December 8th, and I got a chance to listen to it. The podcast also provides references to the science that is being discussed, this episode provided the paper "A Foundational Autism Protein Intereaction Atlas Reveals Molecular Convergence", posted on bioRxiv.
The first thirty minutes or so covered current papers, events, ideas, a whole buffet of things to think about. Possible off-target proteins made from mRNA vaccines, and what effect will the FDA investigation of CAR-T therapies have on the companies, to BIO breaking news, to the epigenetics company Tune Therapeutics announcing they are working on HepB. And, at the time of the episode, there was some hopeful discussion about the probable FDA approval of Vertex and CRISPR Therapeutics' CRISPR-Cas9 therapy CasgevyTM, for sickle cell disease and transfusion-dependent beta-thalessemia. [With blog date 12/28/2023 we now know that the FDA said yes to CasgevyTM]. Lots of info to enjoy.
Part Two of the podcast was covered the interview Julianna LeMieux (Senior Science Writer at GEN) with Nevan Krogan. Krogan has been working on protein-protein interactions for quite a while, notably in the cancer field, and has been developing a suite of technologies that can tackle many different diseases. He feels that there are connections between diseases, similarities that if highlighted, can connect previously silo-ed people and new ideas will flow. Quantitiative network analysis can uncover weak nodes of a cell that are frequently implicated in diseases.
Absolutely essential is the body of work that has been built thought genetics and sequencing, but Krogan thinks funding needs to shift to proteins and protein networks to take it to the next level.
Julianna asked how Krogan validates suggested protein-protein interactions, and he covers some of his process, the pieces that led him to be able to discover information about autism, and soon other diseases as well. Of course, as he says, the ultimate goal is therapies and he is very very hopeful.
Then Julianna asked the big question, how do you take the info you learn and turn it into a therapeutic. Krogan belives that the more you know about something, the more likely you can manipulate it-which could ultimately lead to a therapy. The system, Krogan says, is key, it will point you in the right direction, whether its autism, cancer, or maybe even Monkey Pox and other viruses to predict the next zoonotic events.
All in all, a great podcast--I plan to tune in every week. Maybe you will too!