The modern technologies in medicinal and agricultural biotechnology are powerful tools that can address a wide range of problems. From improved plants, animals and microbes, the technologies known as genetic engineering (familiarly "GMOs") are mostly misunderstood and oftentimes maligned. These technologies are well regarded by scientists, yet approached skeptically by a concerned public. The disparity has been conjured by prevalent misinformation on the internet and in activist literature and documentaries. At the same time farmers and scientists have not been good communicators about what the technology is, and isn't.
The Talking Biotech Podcast is a weekly podcast that provides science-based discussion on current topics. The discussion is led by Dr. Kevin Folta, a professor with training in these areas and familiarity with the scholarly literature. Guest will describe current issues in biotechnology, twitter-based questions are answered, and there is a segment dedicated to plant genetic improvement from domestication through today's breeding efforts.
The podcast is geared to anyone wishing to know more about biotechnology, its risks and benefits, and how it can be used to help farmers, the needy, consumers and the environment.
292 – Peptoids as Therapeutic Tools
Peptides have increasingly emerging roles in cellular signaling and anti-microbial applications. Peptioids are cousins of their active peptide analogs, only synthesized with a durable bond that helps the molecule evade cellular turnover mechanisms. Dr. Gill Diamond of the University of Louisville discusses the chemistry of peptoids and their applications as anti-virals, including targeting SARS-CoV2. The pipeline of new compounds is discussed with a myriad of potential application in human disease. Dr. Diamond also serves on as a scientific advisor to Maxwell Biosciences.
Maxwell Biosciences on Twitter
291 – Kleptoplasty and a Solar-Powered Animal
A solar-powered animal? There are species of sea slugs that consume algae, then integrate the chloroplasts into their own digestive cells. There they function to fix carbon and essentially power the organism. This phenomenon is known as kelptoplasty- stealing the autotrophic capacities of one organism for the slug’s benefit. This week’s podcast is a conversation with Dr. Sonia Cruz, a Principal Researcher at the University of Averio. Her work seeks to unravel many of the intriguing questions about this unusual relationship between photosynthesis and animals.
290 – Methylation Clocks, Aging and Disease
The basis of aging and long-term degenerative disease have been formidable questions for scientists. Over the last decade several “methylation clocks” have been devised to examine modifications of DNA that match well with developmental state and disease presentation. Dr. Ekaterina Rogaeva from the University of Toronto studies methylation clocks, especially as they associate with specific neurodegenerative diseases. The discoveries in this discipline delineate diagnostic patterns of epigenetic changes that could be critical in disease prediction and treatment, as well as monitoring overall health.
289 – The GalSafe Pig and Xenotransplantation
Last week’s episode covered Alpha Gal Syndrome, the tick-induced allergy to beef and pork. The same immunological response could also limit a recipient’s access to xenography or xenotransplantation, that is, the introduction of pig and cow tissues and organs for human benefit. From valves to tendons to organs, the use of non-human animal parts is becoming increasingly common, but so is the instance of immune response to them due to a response to alpha gal. Today’s guest is Dr. John Bianchi, VP of Product Development at Revivicor. Revivicor has developed the GalSafe Pig, a genetic engineering step that eliminates the production of Alpha-Gal, making organs compatible with sensitive recipients. While solving the key problem of xenographic transplants and tissue donation, the pork may also be consumed without incident. Again science rises to solve an important problem.
288 – Alpha Gal Syndrome
You find a tick on your skin and remove it. The next day you eat a sausage and wind up in the emergency room in anaphylaxis. After that, you can’t eat beef or pork without experiencing an intense allergic reaction. This is alpha-gal syndrome, an allergy induced by the saliva of ticks bearing a simple oligosaccharide (compound sugar), and the body mounts an immune response against it. The same oligosaccharide is also found in beef and pork. This strange condition is becoming increasingly more common. Dr. Jeffery Wilson is a physician at the University of Virginia who studies alpha-gal syndrome. We discuss this strange disorder, and consider strategies to solve it that will be discussed in the next episode.
287 – Bioluminescence, Antibiotic Resistance, and Science Communication
Today’s podcast is an interview with New Zealander of the Year Dr. Siouxsie Wiles. Dr. Wiles’ program uses bioluminesence as a marker to follow bacterial growth and disease progression. Her work seeks to identify new antimicrobial compounds. However, Dr. Wiles has become a go-to person in the discussion of COVID19, and has led public discourse on the realities of the pandemic. Her written work, video and cartoons around COVID19 have contributed to New Zealand’s low incidence rate, and world leadership in how to handle a pandemic. We discuss her work and efforts in science communication.
Follow Dr. Wiles on Twitter: @SiouxsieW
Her website is here
Some of the COVID19 cartoons with Toby Myers can be seen here.
Dr. Wiles TEDx Talk.
Very informative and easy to understand!
Excellent resource for people who are looking to get a better understanding of what GMOs are, how they work, and their place in humanity’s history of agriculture, as well as how they can be a tool against climate change and human suffering. Kevin Folta cares deeply about helping the general public understand science so they can form educated opinions on this important this important topic.
A Podcast with Potential
Interesting topics but the annoying background elevator music takes away from getting fully engaged.
Why aren’t you listening already?
I’ve been a fan of this podcast for several years and it continually delivers strong science, interesting conversations, and great ideas. The podcast only continues to improve as more episodes are released.