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Retrograde AAV: Making the Journey from Axon to Nucleus

Posted by Leila Haery on May 16, 2017 10:30:00 AM

The concept that the brain has a structure is not obvious. While it’s been a long time since Aristotle argued the heart was the thought center of the body, it wasn’t until the 1700s that scientists hypothesized and began to gather evidence that the brain has distinct regions with specialized functions. Phineas Gage, the man whose personality changed drastically after an accident where an iron spike was driven through his head, is a famous early example of the link between brain regions and behavior.  Also around that time, French scientists Marc Dax and Paul Broca independently discovered the speech production center of the brain when autopsies of speech-impaired patients revealed lesions in a particular brain region, later named the Broca’s area. In this post I’ll describe a new virus with retrograde function and how it’s enabling scientists to access neurons in a powerful way. Keep reading to find out what retrograde function is and how it gives us better access and ultimately a better understanding of the brain.

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Topics: Viral Vectors

Activate Addgene's "Find Plasmids" Badge on Pubmed Abstracts

Posted by Caroline LaManna on May 12, 2017 8:58:59 AM

Have you ever thought - Is there an easy way to find published plasmids? Do you spend a lot of time in PubMed searching for research articles? Well then, my scientist friend, do I have a handy tool for you.  

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Topics: Scientific Sharing, Inside Addgene

Enabling Precision Functional Genomics with the Target Accelerator Plasmid Collection

Posted by Guest Blogger on May 11, 2017 10:30:00 AM

This post was contributed  by Jesse S. Boehm, the Associate Director of the Cancer Program at the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT.

The notion of cancer precision medicine seems so simple! Take a patient’s tumor sample, use cutting edge genomic technologies to map the mutations that are present, and use prior knowledge (data connecting each genotype with vulnerabilities) to design a therapeutic strategy that works.

But, those darn cancers have revealed many tricks up their sleeves and most patients still don’t benefit from this approach. One central bottleneck is that most recurrently mutated cancer genes are rare and most of the individual variants found in tumors are exceedingly rare. As a result, how most of these “variants of unknown significance” (sometimes called “VUS”) function is unknown. How can we make a decision for each patient if the majority of information on each cancer clinical sequencing report includes rare variants that haven’t been characterized?

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Topics: Cancer

Multiplex Genome Editing with CRISPR-Cpf1

Posted by Beth Kenkel on May 9, 2017 10:12:15 AM

There’s a new development for CRISPR-Cpf1 genome editing!  A recent paper from Feng Zhang's lab describes how to use Cpf1 for multiplex genome editing.  For a few reasons, Cpf1 is a simplified system for editing multiple targets compared to Cas9.  Read on to learn more about Cpf1 multiplexing.  For an in-depth review of Cpf1, check out this blog post or see Addgene's CRISPR guide page for a review of Cas9.  For a brief comparison of Cpf1 vs. Cas9, see the table below.

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Topics: CRISPR

Plasmids 101: Fluorescent Protein Timers

Posted by Tyler Ford on May 4, 2017 10:30:00 AM

Even before fluorescent proteins (FPs) came into wide use, there were a variety of ways to monitor cell, organelle, and protein localization. For instance, you might dye your cells and look at them under a microscope, fractionate samples to isolate particular organelles and their contents, or perform in situ hybridization experiments. In many cases fluorescent proteins have usurped old methods or complemented them in ways that make them much easier. A special class of FPs, the FP timers, add an entire new dimension to monitoring localization; using FP timers, researchers can look at a single image of a cell and understand how protein localization changes over time.
Download the Fluorescent Proteins 101 eBook
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Topics: Plasmids 101, Fluorescent Proteins

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