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In Living Color: The Skinny on In Vivo Imaging Tools

Posted by Kendall Morgan on Mar 27, 2014 1:14:57 PM

If you start poking around on Addgene’s Fluorescent Protein Guide to In Vivo Imaging, you’ll pretty quickly notice the name Vladislav Verkhusha popping up again and again, and for good reason.

We all know scientists have used fluorescent proteins to observe what’s happening inside cells for at least a couple of decades. Green is the classic color, but fluorescent proteins are available in a variety of hues. While those tools are great for many applications, Verkhusha and his lab at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York recognized their limitations for peering right through living animals to see their organs – a liver or brain, say, or maybe a tumor. They wanted to find something better.

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Topics: Plasmid Technology, Hot Plasmids, Imaging

Plasmids 101: Mammalian Vectors

Posted by Marcy Patrick on Mar 25, 2014 11:15:00 AM

Although plasmids do not naturally exist in mammals, scientists can still reap the benefits of plasmid-based research using synthetic vectors and cultured mammalian cells. Of course, these mammalian vectors must be compatible with the cell type they are tranfected into – a bacterial origin of replication (ORI) will not allow for plasmid replication in mammalian cells, for example, and a toxin that kills bacteria may not have any discernable effect on mammalian cells. In this blog post we will discuss how mammalian plasmids differ from their bacterial counterparts, including how replication occurs and whether selection is necessary for transfected cells.

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Topics: Plasmid How To, Plasmid Technology, Plasmids 101

Negotiating Work and Life: How to Find the Joy

Posted by Joanne Kamens on Mar 20, 2014 11:04:00 AM

This article was originally published on the Society for Laboratory Automation and Screening (SLAS) Electronic Laboratory Neighborhood.  

Work/life balance. Is it truly possible to bring all aspects of our lives under control? Balance is a myth and should not even be the real goal. We are all constantly negotiating our energy and attention. The goal is to maximise the time you are enjoying both work and personal life.

There are no easy answers to negotiating a demanding career in science with other interests and priorities, but many find it helpful to obtain support and ideas from those who seem to be managing. Being reminded of the seemingly simple actions we can take to help ourselves can be an appropriate first step.

Check out Joanne's Reddit AMA

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Topics: Career, Fun

CRISPR-Cas9 FAQs Answered!

Posted by Caroline LaManna on Mar 13, 2014 12:08:00 PM

As Kendall mentioned in Tuesday's blog post, keeping up with the newest CRISPR technologies and their applications can be exhausting. A quick search for "CRISPR", short-hand for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats, in Pubmed returned 728 articles (3/12/2014). With so many options for CRISPR plasmid tools and numerous experimental design decisions to make, it makes sense that scientists, many of whom are venturing into genome editing for the first time, have lots of questions.

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Topics: Plasmid Technology, Genome Engineering, Lab Tips, CRISPR

Keeping Up With CRISPR/Cas9

Posted by Kendall Morgan on Mar 11, 2014 1:55:37 PM

If any of you are finding it hard to keep up with the news on CRISPR, there's a pretty good reason for that. Lately, significant advances in the understanding and application of CRISPR/Cas9 technology are coming along at a fast and furious pace. In December, as we've blogged about before, there was the first direct demonstration that CRISPR's could be used to correct disease mutations, both in mice and in human cells. But that important advance was quickly followed by even splashier news: Jiahao Sha of Nanjing Medical University had successfully used the CRISPR/Cas9 system to precisely edit specific genes in monkeys.

"Our study shows that the CRISPR/Cas9 system enables simultaneous disruption of two target genes in one step without producing off-target mutations," Sha was quoted as saying when the news first broke. "Considering that many human diseases are caused by genetic abnormalities, targeted genetic modification in monkeys is invaluable for the generation of human disease models."

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Topics: Plasmid Technology, Genome Engineering, CRISPR

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