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Emerging tools and techniques that may advance autism research.

Mighty merger: New software can sift and sort pieces of gene expression data gleaned from a microarray (left).

Online tool can mix, match gene expression data

by  /  22 July 2016

A new resource helps biologists easily mine large troves of information about when and where genes are expressed.

Previous articles

July 2016
Bacterial loan: An enzyme taken from Leptotrichia shahii can bind to and cut messenger RNA.
Professor Oscar L. Miller / Science Source
News / Toolbox

With new part, CRISPR can cut RNA in living cells

by  /  15 July 2016

A new version of the gene-editing tool CRISPR can target and cut RNA, offering a way to tinker with the expression of autism genes.

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Double duty: CRISPR can simultaneously tag a protein of interest (green) and delete another (pink).
News / Toolbox

Gene-editing tool locates proteins inside brain cells

by  /  8 July 2016

The popular gene-editing tool CRISPR can tag proteins in the brain, illuminating the whereabouts of autism candidates.

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June 2016
Making marks: Genome-editing enzymes in zebrafish introduce mutations in a DNA ‘barcode’ that accumulate over generations.kazakovmaksim / iStock.com
News / Toolbox

Gene-editing tool used to map lineage of cells

by  /  29 June 2016

Researchers have repurposed CRISPR, the popular gene-editing tool, for tracing cell lineages in whole organisms.

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Laws of attraction: Neurons expressing a magnetically sensitive protein (right) show a spike in calcium levels when exposed to a magnet.
News / Toolbox

‘Magneto’ manipulates behavior of freely moving mice

by  /  22 June 2016

A magnetically sensitive protein allows researchers to switch on neurons in freely moving mice and zebrafish.

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Smell test: In mice with trimmed whiskers, neurons become unusually active (bright yellow) in sensory areas of the brain governing the mouth and nose when they explore their surroundings.
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New ‘camera’ produces panoramic images of brain activity

by  /  15 June 2016

A program called ClearMap allows researchers to take a snapshot of neuronal activity across the entire brain of an adult mouse.

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Hot zone: Some stretches of DNA serve as landing strips for regulatory proteins, and minor changes to these sequences may influence a person’s risk of autism. ktsdesign / Shutterstock.com
News / Toolbox

DNA typo tracker uncovers glitches in gene regulation

by  /  8 June 2016

A new tool allows researchers to identify thousands of genome errors in dozens of people at once.

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Flower power: Cells taken from the center of structures called rosettes can transform into a mix of excitatory and inhibitory neurons.
News / Toolbox

Culture scheme yields realistic neuron mixture

by  /  1 June 2016

Using a clever culture method, scientists can transform human stem cells into a precise blend of neuron types.

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May 2016
Trading bases: Researchers used a gene-editing system to open up the DNA coil, giving access to an enzyme that switches DNA letters.
News / Toolbox

New gene-editing system can swap single DNA letters

by  /  25 May 2016

A tool that allows researchers to switch one DNA letter with another may help them evaluate the change’s consequences.

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Connectivity map: Patterns of increased (red) and decreased (blue) connectivity among brain networks (circles) may be useful for spotting children with attention problems.
News / Toolbox

Atlas of brain connectivity can flag attention problems

by  /  18 May 2016

A new set of charts shows how brain connections can change as children grow, and can serve as a reference for detecting problems with attention.

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Sleepy solution: Mice treated with the anesthetic isoflurane show less blood flow in the brain over time (blue, top) than do those given the drug etomidate (bottom).
News / Toolbox

Fast-acting anesthetic sharpens images of rodent brains

by  /  11 May 2016

A chemical commonly used in emergency rooms can anesthetize mice and rats for brain scans without distorting the images.

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