Nanotechnology maps gene expression in brain

The Allen Institute for Brain Science is using nanotech methods to map in which cells in the brain which genes are expressed, which should lead to new insights into the relationships among genes, brain regions, behavior, and disease. Such knowledge might also advance the development of ‘cognitive computing‘—the effort to build computers that mimic brains. From Nano World News, “A high-throughput platform for nanoparticle-based multiplex in-situ hybridization in brain“, written by Z. Riley and A. Jeromin:

Zackery Riley, BSc, MBA, is a senior research associate in the Methods Development group at the Allen Institute for Brain Science. Andreas Jeromin, PhD, is currently the manager of the Methods Development group at the Allen Institute for Brain Science. Their interest is focused on the development of novel and improved gene expression platforms and their integration with other high-throughput technologies.

The Allen Brain Atlas, developed by the Allen Institute for Brain Science, is the first large-scale atlas of gene expression in the mouse brain, using chromogenic in situ hybridization (cISH) to detect the location of over 20,000 genes.

To overcome the limitations of a single label chromogenic cISH platform, Zack Riley, Emi Byrnes, Sheana Parry, Nick Dee and Andreas Jeromin developed a high-throughput multispectral quantum dot (Qdot) ISH platform (Fig 1). This new ISH tool provides a mechanism to systematically examine spatial gene expression patterns, aided by multispectral imaging, in the mouse and human brain.

The intrinsic photostability, brightness and tunability of Qdots is critical in providing superior signal-to-noise of the ISH signal and long-term stability, while minimizing photobleaching and allowing re-scanning of images. The photostability and tunability of the quantum dot nanocrystals is an ideal technology for examining localized and scattered gene expression in situ.


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