Welcome back to the SynBio for Human Health Newsletter! It’s been another busy month for the human health community, including the recently published study that gene therapy could one day treat severe addiction disorders like alcohol. (Keep reading for our exclusive interview with the study’s co-author!)

This edition of the Human Health Newsletter is brought to you by Twist Bioscience, the world leader in sustainable, customizable DNA synthesis. Now, Twist's antibody libraries are helping to advance novel antibody therapeutics. Learn more about how Twist can accelerate your pipeline.

Also in this Newsletter: 

  • SynBioBeta is going to Boston for Biotech Week on September 19-21— Join our Leaders Breakfast!

  • The human Y chromosome is finally fully sequenced

  • News from the Community 

Join our Biotech Leaders’ Breakfast in Boston on September 20th

We all know how hard it is to bring a novel therapeutic to market, from scientific and manufacturing challenges through the regulatory obstacle course. That's why SynBioBeta, bit. Bio, and Mintz are hosting a Regulatory Insights and Manufacturing Strategies Breakfast on September 20th during Biotech Week Boston. Network with fellow leaders and hear from industry experts, including Jeffrey Baker, former Deputy Director of Biotechnology Products at the FDA, on what it takes to bring a therapy to market. 

Are you a biotech leader who should be in this room? Reach out to us to join!

Could a Gene Therapy Cure Severe Alcohol Addiction?

By Fiona Rose Mischel 

A recent study published earlier this month in Nature Medicine, found that gene therapy could be used to treat alcohol use disorder. The treatment significantly reduced alcohol consumption in animal models, even after they were reintroduced to alcohol numerous times. To the outside eye, this may seem an unexpected use—gene therapies are typically used to target genetic diseases. My interest was piqued. What inspired this novel application, and what are the broader implications for treating other addiction disorders?

To seek answers, I spoke with the co-principal investigator of the study, Dr. Krystof Bankiewicz, professor of Neurological Surgery and Director of the Brain Health and Performance Center at Ohio State University. Bankiewicz explained that his work on gene therapy for alcohol addiction originates from his earlier work on Parkinson’s disease and the role of glial-derived neurotrophic factor (hGDNF), a protein encoded by the GDNF gene. 

“The origins of this study come from the work we’ve conducted to bring gene therapy to Parkinson's patients,” says Bankiewicz. “It took [me and many investigators] a couple of decades to really understand what GDNF is doing in the dopaminergic system.” 

The exact relationship between dopamine and Parkinson’s is unclear, but there are known connections between the two. For people with addiction, dopamine plays a central role in the human rewards system. Read the full article here →

Human Y Chromosome Fully Sequenced

The Telomere-to-Telomere (T2T) Consortium just unveiled the complete Y chromosome sequence, illuminating mysteries of fertility and genetic intricacies. Two decades ago, when scientists first inked down the human genome, not all was crystal clear and small gaps peppered the genomic tapestry. While most of these mysteries were deciphered by the T2T Consortium in recent times, the Y chromosome, with its substantial gaps, remained elusive, in particular, the azoospermia factor region. This particular segment, a linchpin for sperm production, has been further illuminated with the newly sequenced data. Read more about these new insights

News from the Community

Other News

Have news or comments you’d like to share? Reach out to us at

That’s all from us this month, but we’ll be back next month with new insights, opinions, and spotlights on the breakthroughs of synbio for human health.

Until next time,


Fiona Mischel

Director, Human Health Content and Innovation

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