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Tetbow: Bright Multicolor Labeling for Neuronal Tracing

Posted by Guest Blogger on Jan 24, 2019 9:24:20 AM

This post was contributed by Richi Sakaguchi from Kyoto University, and Marcus N. Leiwe and Takeshi Imai from Kyushu University.

Stochastic multicolor labeling is a powerful solution for discriminating between neurons for light microscopy-based neuronal reconstruction. To achieve stochastic multicolor labeling, Brainbow used the Cre-loxP system to express one of the three fluorescent protein (XFP) genes in a transgene. When multiple copies of the transgene cassette are introduced, stochasticity will result in a combinatorial expression of these three genes with different copy numbers, producing dozens of color hues (Livet et al., 2007; Cai et al., 2013). However, the brightness of Brainbow was inherently low. This is because the stochastic and combinatorial expression of fluorescent proteins is only possible at low copy number ranges, resulting in low fluorescent protein level.

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Topics: Fluorescent Proteins

Supporting Reproducibility with a Connected ELN

Posted by Guest Blogger on Jan 17, 2019 8:38:21 AM

This post was contributed by Rory Macneil, founder of Research Space.

There are many types of electronic lab notebooks (ELNs), each with its own pros and cons. All ELNs have the virtue of liberating data from paper into an electronic environment and hence making it searchable and shareable, but some ELNs provide better support for reproducibility than others.

Unfortunately, most ELNs are designed as closed ecosystems and act as data silos because they limit connectivity with other tools and resources. Thus, it’s difficult to get data out of the ELN. This means that reproducibility is limited in two ways – only data inside the ELN is reproducible, and only the highly restricted number of people who can access the ELN have the ability to attempt to reproduce the research that produced the data.

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Topics: Reproducibility, Open Science

CRISPR 101: CRISPR-mediated Plant Base Editors

Posted by Guest Blogger on Jan 3, 2019 8:35:29 AM

This post was contributed by Kutubuddin Molla, a Fulbright Visiting Scholar at the Pennsylvania State University.

Imagine you are dealing with a defective gene, Xm, the sequence of which is identical to the correct gene, Xw, except for a single base. If you heard about CRISPR, one question probably comes to mind: can CRISPR be applied to fix the defective base precisely?

Until 2016, precise single base changes were only possible through exploiting the homology-directed repair (HDR) pathway which occurs in cells at low frequencies and relies on the efficient delivery of donor DNA to facilitate repair. Since the development of CRISPR-mediated base editing (BE), these types of repairs can now be done more efficiently than before. A base editor precisely changes a single base with an efficiency typically ranging from 25-75%, while the success of precise change via HDR limited to 0-5%. This blog post covers a brief review of different basic BE technologies and their adaptation for plant genome editing.
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Topics: CRISPR, Plant Biology, CRISPR 101

The CRISPR babies saga shows the need for action, not more delays

Posted by Guest Blogger on Dec 20, 2018 8:15:12 AM

This post was contributed by Kelly Hills, founding bioethicist of Rogue Bioethics.

On November 25, the MIT Technology Review dropped a bombshell report. A scientist working in China was using CRISPR/Cas9 in an attempt to create gene-edited babies. Several hours later, the scientist, Jiankiu He, confirmed that two such edited babies were born in a twin live birth several weeks previously. While this claim has yet to be independently verified, the watching world erupted in controversy. Briefly, there are two overlapping, valid critiques being offered of He’s work:

  • CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing is not far enough along, scientifically, to be doing in humans;
  • We have not had a broad, public conversation or consensus around the ethics of genome editing.
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Topics: CRISPR

Academic vs. Industry Postdocs

Posted by Guest Blogger on Nov 13, 2018 8:22:32 AM

This post was contributed by Laura Desrochers, a postdoctoral scientist at AstraZeneca.

Why I chose an industry postdoc

I’m currently doing an industry postdoc in neuroscience at AstraZeneca’s Waltham site after doing a brief academic postdoc. Why did I switch? Well, my long-term goal was to enter industry since I was drawn to the idea of working as a team to develop therapies that could directly impact patients. And, to be honest, I’ve never enjoyed grant-writing. The more I talked to people with industry experience, the more I heard that getting into industry early would only help.

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Topics: Career, Career Readiness

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