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Adapting Toehold Switches to Detect Zika Virus

Posted by Guest Blogger on Aug 30, 2016 10:30:00 AM

This post was contributed by guest bloggers Keith Pardee and Alexander A. Green.

Zika Background

First identified in 1947 in Uganda, the Zika virus had received little attention and, for the most part, had been associated with low morbidity and mild symptoms. This changed in January with the report of an outbreak of the virus in Brazil that was correlated with greater rates of infection and rare, but severe, symptoms, including the development of fetal microcephaly and Guillain-Barré syndrome. In response, the World Health Organization has declared a global health emergency and called for the fast-tracked development of diagnostics. Mostly transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes (aegypti and albopictus) and, aided by international travel, the Zika virus is expected to expand into heavily populated regions of South, Central, and North America. Diagnostics will play an important role in helping to monitor and slow this spread until vaccine programs can be put in place to provide community protection.

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Topics: Synthetic Biology

Developing Lab Management Software for Biology

Posted by Kris Shamloo on Aug 25, 2016 10:30:00 AM

Laboratory management software is not a requisite for a functioning lab, but it is for a scaleable lab. When you need to track the location, quality, growth, and legal status of thousands of plasmids a day, like we do at Addgene, pen and paper will fail you. The benefits of lab management software aren’t just limited to large volume facilities; it can be useful in academic labs where postdocs, students, and lab mates are coming and going frequently - an environment ripe for valuable work and materials to slip through the cracks.

In this post we’ll highlight some of the lessons we’ve learned over the years with the hope that our insights can help steer you in the right direction when writing your own software. None of this is gospel, but we think it's worth consideration.
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Topics: Inside Addgene, Lab Software

10 Steps to a Perfect Science Talk

Posted by Joanne Kamens on Aug 23, 2016 10:30:00 AM

Like graphing data, choosing controls, or mixing clear solutions—public speaking is skill that any scientist can learn.  Any time you give a science talk, you are also giving a job talk. Even if not being interviewed, there could always be a future boss in the room, so it is a good idea to start thinking about public speaking early and often. Two of my jobs have indirectly resulted from someone seeing me speak in a non-interview setting. There are many resources on self-promotion (how hard it is for some people, especially women), visibility (how to get it, especially if introverted ), and networking (how to get people to remember you). What better way to accomplish all of these things naturally than to give a dynamite presentation?  To that end, let’s chat about giving science talks and how to make them serve you well. The happy byproduct might just be a career opportunity.

Check out Joanne's Reddit AMA

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Topics: Career, Science Communication, Career Readiness

Cas9 Activators: A Practical Guide

Posted by Guest Blogger on Aug 18, 2016 10:30:00 AM

This post was contributed by guest bloggers Marcelle Tuttle and Alex Chavez, researchers at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering.

Listen to Our Podcast Interview the Alex Chavez

Background on Cas9 Activators

is an enormously plastic tool and has taken the scientific world by storm. While Cas9 has been most widely used to create specific edits in DNA, there has also been significant work on constructing Cas9 transcriptional activators. These constructs allow for the upregulation of essentially any gene by fusing mutants of Cas9 deficient in DNA cutting activity to a transcriptional activation domain (Fig 1).

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Topics: CRISPR

Single Base Editing with CRISPR

Posted by Mary Gearing on Aug 16, 2016 10:30:00 AM

This post was updated on Nov 27, 2017.

When we talk about CRISPR applications, one negative always comes up: the low editing efficiency of homology-directed repair (HDR). Compared to non-homologous end joining, HDR occurs at a relatively low frequency, and in nondividing cells, this pathway is further downregulated. Rather than try to improve HDR, Addgene depositor David Liu’s lab created new Cas9 fusion proteins that act as base editorsThese fusions contain dCas9 or Cas9 nickase and a cytidine deaminase, and they can convert cytosine to uracil without cutting DNA. Uracil is then subsequently converted to thymine through DNA replication or repair. Later work has improved base editor targeting flexibility and specificity. New adenine base editors also allow you to change adenine to inosine, which is then converted to guanine.

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Topics: Genome Engineering, CRISPR

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