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AAVs CREATed for Gene Delivery to the CNS and PNS

Posted by Beth Kenkel on Sep 28, 2017 10:01:35 AM

Adeno-associated viral (AAV) vectors are the most frequently used gene-transfer tools in the study of the brain and spinal cord, which together are known as the central nervous system (CNS). AAVs are popular tools because: 1) their genomes are easy to manipulate, 2) they have long-term expression; and 3) they have limited toxicity. However, a key challenge of using AAVs for neuroscience research is the lack of a method for genetically manipulating neurons throughout the whole brain. Neurons of the peripheral nervous system (PNS), which connect the heart, lung, gut, and other organs to the CNS, are also an important target for gene delivery, especially for the study of pain. While many new capsids (i.e. the part of the virus that determines tropism) have been developed that increase transduction efficiency, none allow for simple and efficient transduction of both the CNS and PNS.That is until the Gradinaru Lab at Caltech stepped up to the challenge.

Find the PHP Plasmids Here!

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Topics: Plasmid Technology, Hot Plasmids, Viral Vectors

Science communication: 9 Strategies to Get Your Foot in the Door

Posted by Guest Blogger on Sep 27, 2017 9:23:01 AM

This post was contributed by guest blogger Sarah Schmidt, a Marie Curie Fellow at The Sainsbury Laboratory.

Are you a science student or early career researcher looking to break into science communication? Everybody goes about this in their own way. The career paths into science communication are as varied as the field itself. Among other things, science communication comprises broadcasting, science writing, and certain aspects of art and education. If you suspect that science communication might be for you, don’t wait. Start communicating now. These 9 strategies will get you started: 

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Topics: Career, Science Communication, Career Readiness

Science Careers: Unruly Interests Feed Many Paths

Posted by Guest Blogger on Sep 26, 2017 8:12:28 AM

This post was contributed by guest writer Pamela J. Hines PhD, Senior Editor at Science Magazine.

Although we only walk one path at a time, the variety of paths in life is mind-boggling. Unlike a mountain – with many routes up and only one destination – a career in the sciences is more like an intergalactic network. Which planet will you visit? Where will you stop for refreshment along the way? What ecosystem makes your heart sing with delight?

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Topics: Career, Science Communication, Career Readiness

CRISPR 101: Targeting RNA with Cas13a (C2c2)

Posted by Joel McDade on Sep 21, 2017 10:07:21 AM

This post was updated on Nov 14, 2017.

CRISPR, and specifically Cas9 from S. pyogenes (SpCas9), is truly an exceptional genome engineering tool. It is easy to use, functional in most species, and has many applications (see a review of CRISPR applications here). That said, SpCas9 is not the only game in town, and other Cas proteins like SaCas9 and Cpf1 can circumvent the limitations associated with SpCas9. A novel protein, Cas13a (previously referred to as C2c2), has several unique properties that further expand the CRISPR toolbox. We'll cover how Cas13a was identified, the structure and function of Cas13a with a focus on what makes this molecule unique, and the various applications of Cas13a.

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Topics: CRISPR, CRISPR 101

Photosensitizer Induced Cell Ablation with FAP-TAP MG-2I-dL5**

Posted by Beth Kenkel on Sep 19, 2017 9:20:04 AM

Have you ever wanted to selectively kill a subset of cells in your model system? Turns out that with light-inducible photosensitizers and a quick zap of the proper color light, you can do just that.  Photosensitizing dyes and proteins have been around for awhile (check out this review), but the Bruchez and Tsang labs recently developed a photosensitizer composed of the protein complex complex and the MG-2I-dL5** fluorogen that can be used to ablate cells in culture and in vivo.  Read on to learn more about this killer illumination technique!

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Topics: Plasmid Technology

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