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  1. Solitary fibrous tumor (SFT) is a rare soft-tissue sarcoma. This nonhereditary cancer is the result of an environmental intrachromosomal gene fusion between NAB2 and STAT6 on chromosome 12, which fuses the activation domain of STAT6 with the repression domain of NAB2. Currently there is not an approved chemotherapy regimen for SFTs. The best response on available pharmaceuticals is a partial response or stable disease for several months. The purpose of this study is to investigate the potential of RNA-based therapies for the treatment of SFTs. Specifically, in vitro SFT cell models were engineered to harbor the characteristic NAB2–STAT6 fusion using the CRISPR/SpCas9 system. Cell migration as well as multiple cancer-related signaling pathways were increased in the engineered cells as compared to the fusion-absent parent cells. The SFT cell models were then used for evaluating the targeting efficacies of NAB2–STAT6 fusion-specific antisense oligonucleotides (ASOs) and CRISPR/CasRx systems. Our results showed that fusion specific ASO treatments caused a 58% reduction in expression of fusion transcripts and a 22% reduction in cell proliferation after 72 h in vitro. Similarly, the AAV2-mediated CRISPR/CasRx system led to a 59% reduction in fusion transcript expressions in vitro, and a 55% reduction in xenograft growth after 29 days ex vivo. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 1, 2024
  2. Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2024
  3. CRISPR-engineered physical unclonable functions establish a foundational security technology for provenance attestation protocols. 
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  4. Abstract

    Two common hemoglobinopathies, sickle cell disease (SCD) and β-thalassemia, arise from genetic mutations within the β-globin gene. In this work, we identified a 500-bp motif (Fetal Chromatin Domain, FCD) upstream of human ϒ-globin locus and showed that the removal of this motif using CRISPR technology reactivates the expression of ϒ-globin. Next, we present two different cell morphology-based machine learning approaches that can be used identify human blood cells (KU-812) that harbor CRISPR-mediated FCD genetic modifications. Three candidate models from the first approach, which uses multilayer perceptron algorithm (MLP 20-26, MLP26-18, and MLP 30-26) and flow cytometry-derived cellular data, yielded 0.83 precision, 0.80 recall, 0.82 accuracy, and 0.90 area under the ROC (receiver operating characteristic) curve when predicting the edited cells. In comparison, the candidate model from the second approach, which uses deep learning (T2D5) and DIC microscopy-derived imaging data, performed with less accuracy (0.80) and ROC AUC (0.87). We envision that equivalent machine learning-based models can complement currently available genotyping protocols for specific genetic modifications which result in morphological changes in human cells.

     
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  5. Abstract

    Herein, we implement and access machine learning architectures to ascertain models that differentiate healthy from apoptotic cells using exclusively forward (FSC) and side (SSC) scatter flow cytometry information. To generate training data, colorectal cancer HCT116 cells were subjected to miR-34a treatment and then classified using a conventional Annexin V/propidium iodide (PI)-staining assay. The apoptotic cells were defined as Annexin V-positive cells, which include early and late apoptotic cells, necrotic cells, as well as other dying or dead cells. In addition to fluorescent signal, we collected cell size and granularity information from the FSC and SSC parameters. Both parameters are subdivided into area, height, and width, thus providing a total of six numerical features that informed and trained our models. A collection of logistical regression, random forest, k-nearest neighbor, multilayer perceptron, and support vector machine was trained and tested for classification performance in predicting cell states using only the six aforementioned numerical features. Out of 1046 candidate models, a multilayer perceptron was chosen with 0.91 live precision, 0.93 live recall, 0.92 livefvalue and 0.97 live area under the ROC curve when applied on standardized data. We discuss and highlight differences in classifier performance and compare the results to the standard practice of forward and side scatter gating, typically performed to select cells based on size and/or complexity. We demonstrate that our model, a ready-to-use module for any flow cytometry-based analysis, can provide automated, reliable, and stain-free classification of healthy and apoptotic cells using exclusively size and granularity information.

     
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  6. Abstract

    The ability to detect pathogens specifically and sensitively is critical to combat infectious diseases outbreaks and pandemics. Colorimetric assays involving loop‐mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) provide simple readouts yet suffer from the intrinsic non‐template amplification. Herein, a highly specific and sensitive assay relying on plasmonic sensing of LAMP amplicons via DNA hybridization, termed as plasmonic LAMP, is developed for the severe acute respiratory syndrome‐related coronavirus 2 (SARS‐CoV‐2) RNA detection. This work has two important advances. First, gold and silver (Au–Ag) alloy nanoshells are developed as plasmonic sensors that have 4‐times stronger extinction in the visible wavelengths and give a 20‐times lower detection limit for oligonucleotides over Au counterparts. Second, the integrated method allows cutting the complex LAMP amplicons into short repeats that are amendable for hybridization with oligonucleotide‐functionalized Au–Ag nanoshells. In the SARS‐CoV‐2 RNA detection, plasmonic LAMP takes ≈75 min assay time, achieves a detection limit of 10 copies per reaction, and eliminates the contamination from non‐template amplification. It also shows better detection specificity and sensitivity over commercially available LAMP kits due to the additional sequence identification. This work opens a new route for LAMP amplicon detection and provides a method for virus testing at its early representation.

     
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