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US Grants for Zebrafish Studies on the Rise

A new assessment by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Portfolio Analysis has found that the popularity of zebrafish as model organisms rose by approximately 60% from 2008 to 2015, marking a shift in model organism trends. This was determined by data mining of successful R01 awards from that period, which found zebrafish mentioned in over 9500 successful grant applications.

Learn More @ Nature

A Far-red Fluorescent Protein Evolved from a Cyanobacterial Phycobiliprotein

A team of researchers have developed a new far-red fluorescent protein (FP): smURFP. This new FP variant has 642 nm excitation and 670 nm emission peaks, an extinction coefficient of 180,000 M−1cm, quantum yield of 18%, and comparable photostability to EGFP. Previous FPs in this spectral class were based upon bacteriophytochromes, but smURFP is part of a new class of FPs evolved from an allophycocyanin alpha-subunit. Such far-red FPs are popular for imaging in live animals because of reduced scattering and absorption.

Learn More @ Nature Methods

Imaging the Brain at Multiple Size Scales

Over the past decade big advances have been made in optical ‪#microscopy‬ for seeing very small details. Recently, Expansion Microscopy has been introduced for imaging such fine detail by making small samples bigger. ‪MIT scientists use this new method to image entire tissues, such as whole mouse brains, by swelling them to over 4x their original size.

Learn More @ MIT News

NIH Plans To Lift Ban On Research Funds For Part-Human, Part-Animal Embryos

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is advancing a new policy to allow the use of federal money to make chimeras – organisms with two or more genetically distinct populations of cells, including those of different species. There are many possible applications for chimeras, including the use of part-human chimeras as animal models for disease. Extra care is being taken to try to address possible ethical concerns.

Learn More @ npr

Strain and Rate-dependent Neuronal Injury in a 3D in vitro Compression Model of Traumatic Brain Injury

Researchers at Brown University have developed a new in vitro model for assessing neuronal injury due to impact tissue strain, as experienced during traumatic brain injury. Injury is simulated in a 3D neuronal culture using a voice coil actuator mounted on a Nikon A1 confocal microscope, allowing for quantification of neuronal lifetime, pathomorphology, and viability with high spatiotemporal accuracy before, during, and after injury. The results are expected to be of high importance for developing future mitigation and diagnosis programs. Article is open access

Learn More @ Nature

Ultra-High Resolution 3D Imaging of Whole Cells

Check out this new open-access resource article from researchers at Yale University detailing a 4Pi single molecule localization microscope with isotropic localization precision of ~10-20 nm. Importantly this new nanoscope can be used to image samples up to 10 um thick, a significant improvement over previous two-objective localization microscopy approaches. This is made possible by using deformable mirrors to correct for depth-induced changes in the shape of the point-spread function.

Learn More @ Cell

An Optogenetic System for Photoinduced Protein Dissociation

A new method has been introduced for light-induced protein dissociation, termed LOVTRAP. This optogenetic approach uses a mutant z subunit of protein A, named Zdk, which binds to a light-oxygen-voltage-sensing domain (LOV2) with precise kinetics. Binding occurs in the dark, with over a 150-fold rise in the dissociation constant upon excitation with blue light. The authors demonstrate reversible sequestration of multiple proteins of interest (POI) to the mitochondrial outer membrane by anchoring LOV2 to mitochondria and fusing the POI to Zdk.

Learn More @ Nature Methods

Which Iconic Science Centers are also Pokémon GO Hot Spots?

Pokémon GO has been sweeping the world this past week. Here's a fun article in ‎Science Magazine detailing Pokémon hotspots at various iconic centers of science, including NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the Large Hadron Collider (it has also been confirmed that there are no Pokémon on the International Space Station). To this list we'd like to add the Dratini we found at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA.

Learn More @ Science Magazine

New Partnership with the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO)

Nikon Instruments Inc. is proud to announce a new partnership with the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) – the world’s largest trade association for biotechnology companies, Pharma, CROs, academic institutions, and related organizations. As a supplier partner for the BIO Business Solutions program, Nikon will be able to quickly connect biotechnology companies with the imaging solutions they need. As the only contracted supplier for research microscope systems, members will benefit from Nikon’s outstanding service and support network, imaging technology, and exclusive pricing.

Wide Field-of-view, Multi-region, Two-photon Imaging of Neuronal Activity in the Mammalian Brain

Researchers have developed a multiphoton microscope that can image at cellular resolution over a field of view of nearly 10 square millimeters, about a 10-fold improvement over typical systems. By using two scanning beams, different regions can be scanned simultaneously. This approach was used to perform correlative calcium imaging of two different cortical visual areas in mice.

Learn More @ Nature Biotechnology

Expansion Microscopy

Researchers at MIT and Janelia Farms have developed a new method for performing Expansion Microscopy (ExM). Instead of crosslinking fluorescent labels to a swell-able polymer gel to expand the specimen, the new method works by crosslinking cellular protein instead. This allows researchers to use conventional labeling methods for ExM, including fluorescent protein (FP) expression (20 different FPs tested). This new method is validated for multicolor imaging with ~70 nm lateral resolution and using conventional fluorescence microscopes.

Learn More @ Nature Biotechnology

Stem Cell Crusader Sparks New Hope for Fighting Diabetes, Heart Disease

Here’s a great new article in Bloomberg about Japan’s booming regenerative medicine industry. When Kyoto University Professor Shinya Yamanaka won a Nobel Prize for pioneering research in stem cell biology four years ago, he probably didn’t realize the profound effect it would have on regenerative medicine investment in Japan. Now the nation is setting aggressive goals for becoming the world leader in the field, which is estimated to become a $950 million industry by 2020 in Japan alone. Stem cell products, such as regenerated skin and cartilage are already widely available, and lab-grown corneas, livers and other organs are on the horizon.

Learn More @ Bloomberg

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