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Welcome to OMNInews from Omnica Corporation, a full-service product design and engineering firm located in Irvine, California.
Enjoy our selection of remarkable news, timely topics, and stay up-to-date with what's new at Omnica.                         

Ron Sully - Director of Marketing 

July 2017   
  CRISPR - This Innocent Sounding Tech that Will Profoundly Affect Our Future
CRISPR/Cas9 (generally referred to as CRISPER) is a method developed and relatively perfected over the course of this decade. The system enables molecular biologists to edit and alter the DNA genome of virtually any species with far more precision than any time in the past.  

The CRISPR process is derived from a naturally occurring defense mechanism found in a wide range of bacteria to protect them from infection by viruses. When researchers employ the process to remove or add new genes they use fragments of "guide RNA" (sgRNA) as templates to match the target section of the genome to be removed. The sgRNA combines with the protein Cas9 (a type of enzyme that snips DNA), which "cuts" the target section out. The removed DNA can be replaced with a new version of DNA that carries a desired genetic sequence (this video describes the process). It is faster, more flexible, and less expensive that previous gene-editing techniques, which makes it exciting and disconcerting at the same time.

This technology will eventually enable researchers to easily determine how genes operate in living cells, and manipulate them to repair or modify biological systems. In the news now, CRISPR gene modification is being used for halting the growth of invasive species and breeding genetically-engineered mosquitoes that cannot transmit malaria. In disease-related fields, a big advantage compared to other gene editing processes is its ability to target many genes acting together, which are the cause of numerous complex disorders.

Animal studies have demonstrated that CRISPR has the potential to cure any genetic disease. Researchers believe it will offer the best hope for eliminating HIV, cancer, sickle cell anemia, and possibly unlock the key to limit or stop the aging process. Currently, there are ongoing trials at the University of Pennsylvania to treat human cancer patients who have run out of options using conventional modalities. Considering how easy it is to establish a laboratory with CRISPR editing capabilities, the flow of knowledge will undoubtedly accelerate.

Surprisingly, genetic editing with these powerful and simple tools is mostly unregulated. A facility can order the genetic material and purchase off-the-shelf chemicals, enzymes, and guide RNA fragments for less than forty dollars. Rudimentary do-it-yourself CRISPR kits that allow people to work on harmless organisms like brewer's yeast are available online for $150. 

The technology is accessible, and the possibilities seem endless, but we may not be prepared for the consequences. This is new territory, and there is much we don't know. And it's not a stretch to conclude that innocent or ill-advised tinkering could result in a new insect, plant, or flu strain that endangers our environment or our way of life. Until reasonable guidelines are established, we hope investigators will maintain an ethical awareness, use caution, and follow best practices developed by peer researchers.
   Why am I in the Kitchen? - If you are bothered by temporary moments of forgetfulness, there is probably no reason to worry. Incidences of "Where did I leave my keys?", or "Why am I in the kitchen?" are common enough that psychologists have identified a reason for these mind lapses. They are caused by the "Doorway Effect".

It occurs when our brain loses track of the many steps required to perform a given task, like going to the lunch room for a coffee. It sounds simple, but many subconscious mental events occur along with the physical actions required to make it to our destination. We are surrounded by small distractions, sounds, memories, and random thoughts working together to derail us from reaching our goal. During that short journey you might notice the light reflecting off a vase, the ache in your knee or remember to vacuum the floor before Friday.

Our mind files memories based on levels of attention we are focused on at the moment. Usually we are able to keep everything straight and accomplish what we had originally planned, but when we change both physical and mental environments we may lose track of our task: other stuff becomes more important.

It has been demonstrated through studies at the University of Notre Dame that doorways act as "event boundaries", which can be the cause of memory lapses. When you walk through a doorway, your mind places what happens before entering the doorway in a different mental compartment from activities experienced on the exit side. The assertion supports previous research showing that information learned in one setting is more easily retrieved in the same mental and physical context or environment.

Networking and Trade Show Events

   AACC and Med Tech Monday - We will be attending two important events in the coming months. The AACC Clinical Lab Expo at the San Diego Convention Center from August 1-3 is the world's largest exposition for clinical laboratory products and services. We will be in space 1613, prepared to discuss how we can help your firm develop lab equipment and new or next-generation IVD devices.

Med Tech Monday will be held the first Monday in August, the seventh, at the Atrium Hotel in Irvine.  This year's conference will feature well-regarded speakers, start-up pitch sessions, and many networking opportunities with individuals and firms from every aspect of the medical device industry.                        Use the discount code OMNICA for $100 off registration.

OMNICA News and Announcements . . .  
Dana Hills Robots - This year, the Robot Dolphins from Outer Space team 5199 won 2nd place in a high school level, international 66 team field competition. Last year they placed 8th out of 63 State and National Teams. The student engineers from Dana Hills High came by to demonstrate their latest First Robotics Competition (FRC) award-winning robot, and thank Omnica for our sponsorship and fabrication of nearly 100 plastic and aluminum parts for the machine.  
During the demo, the semi-autonomous robot darted through our parking in a manner that was eerily suggestive of a huge mechanical rat. The "steamworks" robot was designed to deliver large circular foam gears to a team member on the sidelines. Another design requirement was the ability to rove around to gather oversized wiffle balls and launch them into an elevated container. It was fascinating, and proved that robots are well suited to move and deliver materials in a fast and efficient manner.

Omnica has a committed interest in STEM programs like this. We conduct middle school classroom tours, judge science fairs, and volunteer for Science at OC. On a quarterly basis we host students from Saddleback for tours and discussions on modelmaking and product design. We also lecture at UCI and host ongoing entrepreneur classes for UCI science students at our facility.

   Testing Lab Replaces Molding Machine - Over the years we have designed hundreds of plastic molded parts, many for specialized applications like metal, glass, and rubber replacement. That is why I was surprised to see Dan in the molding shop last month, packing our supply of engineering plastics for storage or sale. He announced that we are selling the 28-ton Arburg plastic injection molding machine we've had for two decades (Dan is shown at right loading the machine for transport to a new home). I looked into it, and now realize th at although we will continue to remain involved in the application and specification of polymers for development projects , we have been using the machine less and less frequently over the last 5 years. The new use for what was the molding room is an indication of h ow our business model is evolving.    

A significant number of the new projects we conduct have feasibility or Phase 0 components that require work areas for long term testing and data collection. Omnica has begun re-allocating space to accommodate this underserved customer base. After overhearing the chatter regarding the molding machine, Brad Sargent (the VP of Engineering) conscripted the room before the echo faded.

In three weeks we moved the Arburg out and refitted the space to make it a proper testing lab. We now have four dedicated testing, data collection, and assembly areas, including our class 10000 clean room, for implementing these types of projects. Don't worry; we still have plenty of other options for prototyping medical devices. 

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               Please Call:   Ron Sully - 949-472-0275

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   We are different than other product developers. Omnica is a full service high-tech design and engineering firm in business for 33 years. We have 29 full-time employees, and perform all design and engineering services in house, at our Irvine facility. Our specialty is developing medical devices for both start-up companies, large firms like Terumo, Alcon, Instrumentation Laboratory, BD, Medtronic, Allergan, and others.