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2020

Taking Flight Award

A Reverse Genetic Screen Using CRISPRi and Calcium Fluorescence to Identify Novel Seizure Resistance Genes in Zebrafish

Chris McGraw MD, PhD
Massachusetts General Hospital
 

Epilepsy which remains poorly controlled despite multiple trials of antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) is widely considered the greatest therapeutic challenge in the field of epilepsy today. There is a crucial need to identify new drugs that work better and have fewer side effects.

Dr. McGraw is developing a system in a zebra fish model that integrates the latest advances in genetic engineering (Crispr/Cas9) and non-invasive monitoring of neural activity (genetically encoded calcium sensors) to enable a rapid screen for genes that enhance seizure resistance. He predicts that if we systematically identify genes that enhance seizure resistance in an animal model, many of these genes and their protein products could serve as targets for the next generation of anti-epileptic drugs in human patients.

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