To flag neurons that have experienced genotoxic stress, researchers developed an in vivo sensor using an adeno-associated viral vector, called PRISM. Because a cell’s DNA damage response (DDR)—which activates in response to stressors such as environmental toxins or the buildup of misfolded proteins—also responds to invading pathogens, PRISM has an easier time transfecting cells whose damage response mechanisms are preoccupied with existing DNA damage. Once inside, the virus hijacks the neuron’s DNA replication machinery, which reverts an engineered frameshift mutation in the virus and thereby prompts the production of a fluorescent protein that can be observed via microscopy.
Infographic: DNA Damage Viewed with Unprecedented Clarity
A new genetic sensor called PRISM makes use of a host cell’s DNA replication machinery to trigger fluorescence in neurons with damaged DNA.
Infographic: DNA Damage Viewed with Unprecedented Clarity
Infographic: DNA Damage Viewed with Unprecedented Clarity

A new genetic sensor called PRISM makes use of a host cell’s DNA replication machinery to trigger fluorescence in neurons with damaged DNA.

A new genetic sensor called PRISM makes use of a host cell’s DNA replication machinery to trigger fluorescence in neurons with damaged DNA.

viral vectors
Broken DNA
DNA Damage Viewed with Unprecedented Clarity
Amanda Heidt | Aug 15, 2022
A new tool called PRISM draws on virus-host interactions and a DNA repair pathway to help researchers visualize how cellular stress may contribute to neurodegenerative disease.
Photo of Colin Carlson
Colin Carlson Works to Predict and Prevent Viral Spillover
Catherine Offord | Jul 18, 2022
The Georgetown University biologist studies how climate change contributes to the emergence of new zoonotic threats.
An immunoglobulin, also known as an antibody, floating in solution.
Shining a Light on Mass Photometry
The Scientist Creative Services Team and Refeyn
Mass photometry is an interferometric scattering-based technique offering researchers unprecedented characterization of biomolecular complexes and oligomerization in physiologically-relevant situations.
Sleeping mice in chambers with mosquitoes behind them on a mesh
Mosquitoes Drawn to Hosts Infected by Dengue, Zika
Patience Asanga | Jun 30, 2022
Flavivirus infections alter the skin microbiome of mice to increase the production of a sweet-smelling compound that attracts the viruses’ insect vectors, a study finds.
Raccoon dog behind bars of a cage
New Preprints Further Implicate Market in Pandemic’s Origins
Natalia Mesa | Feb 28, 2022
Three studies that analyzed samples from Wuhan’s Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market add to evidence that SARS-CoV-2 has zoonotic origins.
Exosomes, microvesicles, and apoptotic bodies: The three major types of extracellular vesicle.
Extracellular Vesicles: Applications and Potential
Beckman Coulter Life Sciences
Explore why extracellular vesicles are attractive candidates for new therapeutic approaches.
a veterinarian in a white hazmat suit holding a small pig
The Long Journey to Resolve the Origins of a Previous Pandemic
Martha Nelson | Sep 2, 2021
Dozens of researchers, including myself, worked for years to uncover that swine flu had leapt to humans from a pig in Mexico in 2009. We learned a lot about influenza evolution, pig farming, and outbreak risk along the way.
An artistic rendering of blue neurons against a white background
Participant’s Diagnosis Halts Gene Therapy Clinical Trial
Amanda Heidt | Aug 12, 2021
The FDA pauses the research program on a lentivirus-based treatment for a rare neurological condition after a patient developed a bone marrow disorder that could presage leukemia.
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Capturing Heterogeneity: How Single Cell Analysis Reshapes Health and Disease Research
The Scientist Creative Services Team
Timothy O’Sullivan and Jacob Blum will discuss how they use single cell data to understand complex biological systems.
Gene Therapy for Sickle Cell Not Linked to Cancer, Bluebird Finds
Lisa Winter | Mar 11, 2021
Clinical trials were halted after the treatment’s vector that ferries in the healthy genetic sequence was identified in the genome of a patient’s cancer cells.
Infographic: Trans-kingdom Interactions in the Gut
Catherine Offord | Feb 1, 2021
Phages interact with bacteria and eukaryotic cells in ways that researchers suspect influence mammalian health.
Form Determines Function: Insights from Structural Biology
The Scientist Creative Services Team
Researchers use diverse tools to analyze protein structures.
Insects Pass Antiviral Immunity to Offspring
Abby Olena | Dec 17, 2020
In both Drosophila and mosquitoes, protection lasts for generations following a single maternal exposure to positive-sense single-stranded RNA viruses.
aav adeno-associated virus vector gene therapy antibody hemophilia
Thwarting AAV-Neutralizing Antibodies Could Improve Gene Therapy
Emma Yasinski | Sep 25, 2020
Adeno-associated viral vectors can deliver gene therapies, but AAV-neutralizing antibodies might prevent the medicines from working.
Delivering Combination Immunotherapies to Solid Tumors
LabTalk Podcast - A Modern Trojan Horse: Delivering Combination Immunotherapies to Solid Tumors 
The Scientist Creative Services Team and IsoPlexis
Katie McKenna discusses a combination CAR T and viral therapy that kills solid tumors.
adenovirus vector vaccine covid-19 pandemic coronavirus sars-cov-2 spike protein
Vector-Based Vaccines Come to the Fore in the COVID-19 Pandemic
Anthony King | Sep 8, 2020
Adenovirus vectors deliver the genetic instructions for SARS-CoV-2 antigens directly into patients’ cells, provoking a robust immune response. But will pre-existing immunity from common colds take them down?
Dog Study Revives Concerns About Virus Used for Gene Therapy
Jef Akst | Jan 6, 2020
Canines treated with an adeno-associated viral (AAV) vector showed evidence that the therapeutic DNA held within the virus can integrate into the host genome, risking the activation of oncogenes.
Optimizing Adeno-Associated Virus (AAV) Manufacturing
The Scientist Creative Services Team in collaboration with OXGENE
Scientists wield nature’s power to optimize adeno-associated virus (AAV) production and maximize gene therapy safety.
Adeno-associated viruses
Strategies for Smuggling Gene Therapies Past the Immune System
Monique Brouillette | Jul 15, 2019
Researchers are devising ways to prevent viral vectors carrying gene therapies from triggering an immune response.