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Nature Biotech’s top 10 stories of 2019

Our 10 most read news articles in 2019. Discover what drew in our readers: from STING to phages, and what's next after CRISPR.
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Credit: Dr. Robert Pope, National Biodefense Analysis & Countermeasures Center

1. Phage therapy’s latest makeover As issues of product consistency, standardization and specificity are being tackled, can phage therapeutics—long oversold and overhyped—finally realize their antibacterial potential?

This is the first readout from a CRISPR–Cas9 gene editing therapy in humans.Credit: liescu Catalin / Alamy Stock Photo

2. CRISPR-Cas9 “magnificent moment” in the clinic Excitement builds around press-released data from two individuals treated with a CRISPR–Cas9-based therapy targeting somatic cells.

The prime system may have fewer undesirable off-target effects than editing with CRISPR–Cas9 (pictured here). Credit: molekuul.be / Alamy Stock Photo

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3. Gene editing enters ‘prime’ time Early results suggest that prime editors are cleaner than CRISPR–Cas9 and more versatile than base editors, but many questions remain.

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Credit: Science Photo Library / Alamy Stock Photo

4. Cut-price CAR-T cell therapies top India’s biotech agenda Indian startups plan affordable CAR-T therapies—first for domestic use, then for the global market.

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Plants edited with the new genome editing tools will incorporate useful traits and will not be classed as GMOs.Credit: reHAWKEYE / Alamy Stock Photo

5.With CRISPR and machine learning, startups fast-track crops to consume less, produce more Small players take on big seed conglomerates with next-generation non-GMO crops.

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Drug hunters are using machine learning to identify new drug targets, generate hits, guide lead optimization, and for toxicity testing. Cultura Creative (RF) / Alamy Stock Photo

6.AI developers tout revolution, drugmakers talk evolution Artificial intelligence-powered drug discovery is capturing breathless headlines, drug company deals, and investor capital, but the acceleration it promises will not happen overnight.

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Reprinted with permission from Nature Immunology 17, 1142–1149, 2016, Springer Nature.

7. Drug developers switch gears to inhibit STING Several biotechs are exploring STING inhibitors as a means to control innate immunity and inflammation.

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(Credit: BSIP SA / Alamy Stock Photo).

8. Parkinson’s drug makers target inflammasome Link to α-synuclein builds case for inflammasome targeting to treat Parkinson’s disease.

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The brain from a patient with Parkinson’s disease shows connections between putamen and frontal lobe. The putamen connects to the substantia nigra, where the neurodegeneration takes place. Credit: Image Source / Alamy Stock Photo

9. Monster investment puts Baltimore on biotech startup map With neuroinflammation, fibrosis, genomics and apoptosis research to the fore, Johns Hopkins is ramping up its output of startups with a little help from Korea.

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At DeCode in Reykjavik, blood samples from Icelanders are stored for genetic testing.Credit: dpa picture alliance / Alamy Stock Photo

10. Unicorn startup trawls databases for protective genetic modifiers Startup aims to identify disease modifying genes in people with milder than expected phenotypes as starting points for drug discovery programs.

doi: 10.1038/d41587-019-00037-0

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