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Emerging tools and techniques that may advance autism research.

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April 2016
Genetic puzzle: Understanding how pieces of DNA work together to shape gene expression could provide clues to autism.
Valdo Peixoto and Daniel Marbach
News / Toolbox

New atlas of gene regulators shows effects of variants

by  /  20 April 2016

A new online tool reveals how different types of DNA sequences work together to regulate gene expression.

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Double-take: A new molecular tool silences the gene for a heart muscle protein (green) in cultured cells.
News / Toolbox

Molecular knob dials down gene activity

by  /  13 April 2016

A new method harnesses the gene-editing system CRISPR to fine-tune gene expression in human cells.

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Mouse connections: A new method of clearing the brain allows for a deep look into a 2-millimeter slice of a mouse brain.
News / Toolbox

New way to see through brains reveals minute cell structures

by  /  7 April 2016

A new chemical cocktail that renders brains transparent allows a powerful microscope to resolve minute details within the brain.

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March 2016
Short circuit: Depriving immune cells called T cells of oxygen and nutrients coaxes them into becoming different types (left and far left) of electrically active, mature neurons.
News / Toolbox

Culture trick transforms immune cells into neurons

by  /  30 March 2016

A new method allows scientists to chemically coax immune cells in blood into becoming mature neurons.

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Test-tube mice: Researchers have created mice from stem cells carrying the DNA of an individual neuron, including the gene for a red fluorescent protein.
News / Toolbox

Method maps each neuron’s unique genetic fingerprint

by  /  23 March 2016

Sequencing the whole genomes of individual mouse neurons reveals that each cell carries roughly 100 unique mutations.

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Brain portal: Researchers can trigger and monitor neural activity in real time through a custom-built portal to a monkey’s brain.
News / Toolbox

New tool offers way to ‘light up’ cells in monkey brain

by  /  16 March 2016

A new technique can stimulate and record activity across broad swaths of the monkey brain.

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Shrimp snapshot: A computer algorithm paired with light-splitting technology can simultaneously scan seven layers of tissue in a brine shrimp (right) — a feat traditionally achieved by merging scans from each layer (left).
Weijian Yang, Columbia University
News / Toolbox

Imaging tool creates hologram of brain circuits

by  /  2 March 2016

A new tool paints real-time pictures of brain circuits that could reveal altered neuronal activity in mouse models of autism.

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February 2016
Seeing differences: A visual brain center in the mouse contains 42 types of neurons and seven other types of cells, each with their own gene expression signatures.Allen Brain Institute
News / Toolbox

Sequencing approach bares large variety of brain cell types

by  /  24 February 2016

Analyzing gene expression in a vision center of the mouse brain has revealed 49 different classes of cells.

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Neuron finder: A computer program charts the probable positions of neurons in the zebrafish brain, with red areas showing the likely locations of the cells’ nuclei.
News / Toolbox

Precise program traces firing patterns in neural networks

by  /  17 February 2016

By tracking calcium’s movement, a new algorithm simultaneously delineates individual neurons’ shapes as well as their firing patterns.

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Shape shift: Astroctyes grown using a new method form delicate star shapes (left), whereas astrocytes grown in serum from blood turn flat and blobby (right).
News / Toolbox

Simple steps let star-shaped brain cells thrive in culture

by  /  10 February 2016

A new method allows researchers to culture cells known as astrocytes from human brains.

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