3rd Oceania Transgenic and Assisted Reproductive Technologies (TART) Meeting

Posted by: Fabien Delerue on Friday, December 22, 2017

3rd Oceania Transgenic and Assisted Reproduction Technologies (TART) Symposium

University of New South Wales (UNSW), Sydney – Australia   
23-24 November, 2017

In 2013, the first “Oceania” version of the ISTT meetings was held in Brisbane to bring together all “mouse transgenic” professionals in Asia-Pacific (Australia, New-Zealand, Japan) in an informal setting. This facilitated the exchange of information and initiated the ISTT “down-under” network. Capitalising on this great initiative, the second Oceania meeting was held in Hobart in 2015 at the University of Tasmania (Utas). The network was officially created and Utas provided an IT forum where members could discuss their TART-related needs and questions. The Oceania network grew to more than 50 members and staff from new horizons (USA) joined the group.

This year, we were thrilled to host the 3rd Oceania mouse TART symposium at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Sydney. The organising committee (Fabien Delerue - UNSW, Irma Villaflor - CMRI, Elizabeth Williams - UQBR and Karen Brennan - VCCRI) wishes to thank all participants and attendees, for what was certainly an unprecedented success. We totalled an unexpected 143 registrations; several attendees came from overseas (e.g. New-Zealand, Japan, USA, France, Spain) to listen to 27 speakers and browse through 14 posters over 2 days, illustrating the incredible level of interest and commitment displayed during the entire symposium. Similarly, the level of support was outstanding with 29 sponsors, including 11 trade-displays. The committee would like to thank all sponsors (including the ISTT) for largely contributing to the success of the symposium.

The day before the symposium (22 November) UNSW hosted a satellite workshop on Non Surgical Embryo Transfer (NSET) led by Dr Barbara Stone, Senior Research Scientist at ParaTechs Corporation. An introduction to the different uses of the NSET device (i.e. embryo transfer and artificial insemination) was presented during an interactive lecture, followed by a hands-on session where 27 participants were given the opportunity to practice these outstanding techniques (in line with the principles of the 3Rs) in a state-of-the-art laboratory. In the morning of Thursday 23 November, the official opening of the symposium by A/Prof Grainne Moran (Pro-Vice Chancellor - UNSW) and the welcome address by Dr Fabien Delerue were followed by a much anticipated Keynote Lecture on the latest developments in CRISPR genome editing. A/Prof Channabasavaiah Gurumurthy (Guru) delivered another outstanding lecture on the Easi-CRISPR and iGONAD methods, only a few minutes after landing at Sydney airport! The following lecture by Prof Paul Thomas on the ability of CRISPR to target highly repetitive sequences in an attempt to shred the Y chromosome surely brought multiplexing to the next level. Dr Gaetan Burgio presented the latest methods for improving HDR in mice, and Prof Peter Koopman showed how these developments could ultimately improve the quality of mouse models. After the coffee break, A/Prof Ian Smyth presented the services available through the Australian Phenomic Network (APN) followed by Dr Marie-Christine Birling, who introduced the audience to large chromosome rearrangements produced by CRISPR editing. In the afternoon, Dr Lin Wu gave an overview of the numerous projects run at Harvard University, and Dr Frank Koentgen explained how the goGermline technology (ISTT 3Rs prize 2017) can reduce the number of mice used for ES-cell-based gene targeting. For her second presentation Dr Marie-Christine Birling introduced the new CRISPR applications developed at the PHENOMIN-ICS, before Dr Fabien Delerue presented an optimized method for electroporating oocytes. Dr Stephen Forrow discussed the validity of assymetric guides for HDR. Michelle Brownlee then detailed the electroporation protocol used at the Australian BioResources (ABR). To conclude the day, Kevin Taylor gave an insight into how electroporation has been implemented at ABR, and Dr Frances Lemckert presented the outcome of her strategy to target a defined splicing site. At the end of this exciting day, members of the Oceania network enjoyed a relaxed and friendly dinner at the local Coogee beach.

The second day (Friday 24 November) focused on ART and started with another outstanding Keynote lecture delivered by A/Prof Toru Takeo. The audience was very impressed with the mouse bank system and countless embryology techniques developed at the CARD. These techniques, which are used in most transgenic cores worldwide, are a legacy for all the quality work developed by Prof Naomi Nakagata (who could not attend for medical reasons) and A/Prof Toru Takeo. The focus then transitioned to alternative techniques when A/Prof Robert Gilchrist presented the applications of In-Vitro Maturation (IVM) to improve fertility in large animals and humans. As a follow up on the workshop, Dr Barbara Stone showcased her results using non-surgical embryo transfer and artificial insemination. Just before lunch, Dr Vashe Chandrakanthan explained how blastocyst injection could help address fundamental questions by assessing potency of reprogrammed cells, and Lucas Pitt inspired the audience by sharing his personal experience setting up ART in his lab. After lunch, A/Prof Toru Takeo presented the latest CARD protocols to prolong the survival of cold-stored mouse sperm up to 10 days. Sandra Piltz displayed an infectious enthusiasm for ART; presenting the results of cryopreservation of sperm and oocytes using the cryoforks developed by A/Prof John McLaughlin. Nathalie Doucet explained how she assessed the efficacy of alternative recipient strains for rederivation, due to unavailability of the traditionally used CD1 strain in Australia. Melissa Rowles then gave an overview of the different services offered at the Animal Resources Centre (ARC), before Elizabeth Williams explained how ultra-superovulation could markedly reduce animal usage. After the coffee break, Dr Stephen Danon presented an evidence-based assessment of PPE effectiveness in two rodent facilities, which allowed him to maintain the health status whilst decreasing PPE requirements. Finally, Kevin Taylor shared his managerial experience in developing a new operational system, before Adam Steward (recipient of the symposium Travel Award) gave a fresh perspective on what it is like to start an enthusiastic career in our field. Overall, the presentations were well-balanced, with a good mix of basic research and technical approaches. The organising committee would like to thank Lin Chin (administration officer at the Transgenic Animal Unit, UNSW) for her outstanding and diligent assistance with all aspects of the organisation. We also would like to acknowledge Dongming Zheng and Frank Li for creating and maintaining an outstanding website. Finally, the committee is proud to have been able to bring some of the most recognized leaders in the field to the Asia-Pacific region, while making the entire symposium free for all.

We wish the entire ISTT community a safe and happy festive season 2017 and hope to see you all in Kobe, if not before.

Merry CRISPR to all!
Fabien, Irma, Elizabeth & Karen


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