Timeline of key events in biotechnology

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2020-02-06T00:00:00+0000Born in Beizhen, China, Wenliang worked at Wuhan Central Hospital from 2014. He had contracted Covid-19 from a patient. His death highlighted the large toll Covid-19 on healthcare workers. 2020-02-07T00:00:00+00002020-02-11T00:00:00+0000A person with Leber’s congenital amaurosis 10 (LCA10), a genetic condition that is a leading cause of blindness in childhood, was given the treatment. It involved administering a CRISPR–Cas9 gene therapy directly into the patient's eye, near photoreceptor cells. The treatment aims to delete a mutation in the gene CEP290 that is responsible for LCA10. The procedure was performed at Oregon Health and Science University by Mark Pennesi. 2020-03-04T00:00:00+00002020-03-11T00:00:00+00002020-03-18T00:00:00+0000Three non peer-review papers published showing modification of just one gene in human embryos cause unintended DNA deletions and rearrangements in the surrounded targeted sequence. The work was undertaken only for research purposes with embryos being destroyed after the end of the experiments. The first study was carried out by researchers at the Francis Crick Institute (doi.org/10.1101/2020.06.05.135913), the second by researchers at Columbia University (doi.org/10.1101/2020.06.17.149237) and the last one by researchers at Oregon Health & Science University (https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.06.19.162214). 2020-06-01T00:00:00+00002020-06-10T00:00:00+0000The Prize was awarded to Harvey J. Alter, Michael Houghton and Charles M. Rice, three scientists behind discovery of Hepatitis C virus which causes damage to the liver, including cirrhosis, liver failure and liver cancer. In recent years hepatitis C has had considerably more attention and research funding than hepatitis B, which causes similar symptoms. Yet hepatitis B is considerably more common and causes more liver-rated cancer and death worldwide than hepatitis C. Hepatitis B is also approximately 5-10 times more infectious than hepatitis C. Unlike Hepatitis C, which usually only spreads through blood-to blood contact, hepatitis B is spread from contact with bodily fluids of a person who has the infection. 2020-10-05T00:00:00+0000Doudna and Charpentier's development of the CRISPR/Cas9 method together with other colleagues has radically transformed the process for gene editing. Enabling genetic engineering to be carried out on an unprecedented scale at very low cost, CRISPR/Cas9 is now exploited for a wide range of applications ranging from agriculture through to human health. 2020-10-07T00:00:00+0000The vaccine was developed by BioNTech in partnership with Pfizer.2020-12-11T00:00:00+0000The vaccine was developed by Moderna. 2020-12-18T00:00:00+0000An experimental lentiviral gene therapy developed by researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles and Great Ormond Street Hospital in London was given to 50 children diagnosed with adenosine deaminase deficiency, or ADA-SCID, aged from 4 months to 16 years in phase 1/2 clinical trials. Most of the participants acquired and retrained robust immune function between two and three years after the treatment. The results were published in DB Kohn, C Booth, et al 'Autologous Ex Vivo Lentiviral Gene Therapy for Adenosine Deaminase Deficiency', New England Journal of Medicine 384 (2002), 2002-13.2021-05-12T00:00:00+0000The patient was a 58 year old man whose vision was destroyed by retinitis pigmentosa, a genetic disorder which involves the break down of cells that absorb and convert light into brain signals. The gene therapy, also known as optogenetics, was designed to make new cells light-sensitive. Led by Dr. Jose-Alain Sahel, chairman of ophthalmology at the University of Pittsburgh, the treatment involved injecting a adeno-associated viral vector engineered to contain the genetic coding for a channelrhodopsin called ChrimsonR, which is capable of sensing amber light. After 5 months the patient was given special image-enhancing goggles which enabled him to see images and moving objects. The case was published in J-A Sachel, 'Partial recovery of visual function in a blind patient after optogenetic therapy', Nature Medicine, 24 May 2021. The treatment was given as part of a multicentre phase 1/2a trial run by GenSight Biologics. 2021-05-24T00:00:00+0000The treatment was given to Arthur Morgan, a five month old baby diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy, a rare genetic disease linked with paralysis, muscle weakness and progressive loss of movement. Most children born with the disease have a life expectancy of about two years. The treatment, Zolgensma (onasemnogene abeparvovec), developed by Novartis, usually costs £1.79m per dose and is one of the most expensive drugs in the world, NHS England has negotiated a discount for NHS patients under a managed access agreement, which allows for up to 80 patients to receive the drug each year. Arthur was treated at Evelina London Children's Hospital.2021-05-25T00:00:00+0000
Date Event People Places Sciences
6 Feb 2020Malaysia reported the country's first known human-to-human transmission of Covid-19 and number of people infected in Europe reached 30  Covid-19
7 Feb 2020Li Wenliang, the first Chinese doctor to sound the alarm over Covid-19 died from the disease aged 33 years oldLi WenliangWuhan Central Hospital Covid-19
11 Feb 2020WHO officially named the new coronavirus disease Covid-19   Covid-19
4 Mar 2020First patient received gene editing therapy with CRISPR directly administered into the bodyPennesiOregon Health and Science UniversityCrispr-Cas9, Gene editing, Opthalmology, Gene therapy
11 Mar 2020WHO declared Covid-19 to be a pandemic  Covid-19
18 Mar 2020The Czech republic made the wearing of masks compulsory to try and prevent the spread of Covid-19  Covid-19
Jun 2020Research published casting doubt over safety of using CRISPR-Cas 9 to modify human embryos Francis Crick Institute, Columbia University, Oregon Health & Science UniversityCrispr-Cas9, Gene editing
10 Jun 2020Oxford Nanopore Technology launched its first IVD regulated diagnostic, a highly accurate COVID-19 test called LamPORE Oxford Nanopore TechnologyNanopore sequencing
5 Oct 2020Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine awarded for discovery of Hepatitis C virusHarvey Alter, Michael Houghton, Charles Rice, Washington University in St. LouisNational Institutes of Health, Chiron CorporationInfectious diseases
7 Oct 2020Nobel Prize in Chemistry awarded to Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna 'for the development of a method for genome editing'.Doudna, CharpentierUniversity California Berkeley, University of UmeaCRISPR-Cas9, Gene editing,
11 Dec 2020FDA approved first mRNA vaccine for COVID-19 for emergency use BioNTech, PfizermRNA, vaccines
18 Dec 2020FDA approved second mRNA vaccine for COVID-19 ModernamRNA, vaccines
12 May 2021Gene therapy reported to restore immune function in children with rare immunodeficiencyDonald Kohn, Claire BoothUniversity of California Los Angeles, Great Ormond Street HospitalGene therapy
24 May 2021Gene therapy reported to restore partial vision to blind person Sahel, Boulanger-Scemama, Pagot, Arleo, Galluppi, Martel, Degli, Delaux, de Saint Aubert, De Montleau, Gutman, Audo, Duebel, Picaud, Dalkara, Blouin, Taiel, RoskaSorbonne University, University of Pittsburgh, GenSight BiologicsGene therapy, Ophthalmology
25 May 2021First NHS patient treated with gene therapy for spinal muscular atrophy Novartis, Evelina London Children's HospitalGene therapy

6 Feb 2020

Malaysia reported the country's first known human-to-human transmission of Covid-19 and number of people infected in Europe reached 30

7 Feb 2020

Li Wenliang, the first Chinese doctor to sound the alarm over Covid-19 died from the disease aged 33 years old

11 Feb 2020

WHO officially named the new coronavirus disease Covid-19

4 Mar 2020

First patient received gene editing therapy with CRISPR directly administered into the body

11 Mar 2020

WHO declared Covid-19 to be a pandemic

18 Mar 2020

The Czech republic made the wearing of masks compulsory to try and prevent the spread of Covid-19

Jun 2020

Research published casting doubt over safety of using CRISPR-Cas 9 to modify human embryos

10 Jun 2020

Oxford Nanopore Technology launched its first IVD regulated diagnostic, a highly accurate COVID-19 test called LamPORE

5 Oct 2020

Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine awarded for discovery of Hepatitis C virus

7 Oct 2020

Nobel Prize in Chemistry awarded to Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna 'for the development of a method for genome editing'.

11 Dec 2020

FDA approved first mRNA vaccine for COVID-19 for emergency use

18 Dec 2020

FDA approved second mRNA vaccine for COVID-19

12 May 2021

Gene therapy reported to restore immune function in children with rare immunodeficiency

24 May 2021

Gene therapy reported to restore partial vision to blind person

25 May 2021

First NHS patient treated with gene therapy for spinal muscular atrophy

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