Born to be Wildtype!

October 20, 2014 at 12:55 pm Leave a comment

McGill Neurobiologist Wins Prestigious International Award

McGill University Professor Michael Meaney has been selected as the 2014 Klaus J. Jacobs Research Prize Laureate in recognition of his groundbreaking achievements in the biology of child development. A jury of experts selected Prof. Meaney, who is also Scientific Director at the Ludmer Centre for Neuroinformatics and Mental Health at the Douglas Mental Health University Institute, for this honor for his pioneering, cutting edge research on the biological mechanisms by which parental behaviour affects brain development and lifelong function.

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October 17, 2014 at 10:10 am Leave a comment

Bio-Rad Introduces Wet-Lab Validated Real-Time PCR Assays for Rat Genome

Bio-Rad Laboratories announced the launch of new PrimePCR™ Rat Genome Assays for quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR) (available in U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and E.U. only). This expands Bio-Rad’s line of wet-lab validated assays that includes human and mouse genome assays.

Assay validation is one of the most important steps in qPCR but is sometimes ignored because researchers may be unaware of its critical importance in generating accurate results. Validating assays can be laborious and time-consuming, especially when they do not work and need to be redesigned and reordered. While some companies claim to sell prevalidated assays, this assertion often refers to software predictions as opposed to wet-lab validation.

Bio-Rad’s PrimePCR Assays, however, are fully wet-lab validated for specificity, efficiency, and sensitivity, and help researchers adhere to industry best practices known as MIQE (minimum information for publication of quantitative real-time PCR experiments). As part of this validation process, Bio-Rad scientists validate all PCR products using next-generation sequencing, verifying the percentage of on-target amplification. In addition, all of the validation raw data are available to the customer.

Meredith Tennis, PhD, a researcher at the University of Colorado Cancer Center, has been using PrimePCR Assays for cancer chemotherapy prevention studies.

“We choose PrimePCR Assays because they are expertly validated, helping us meet MIQE guidelines,” said Tennis. “Through PrimePCR, we can confidently assess every gene we are interested in on the first try, saving us both time and money.”

Researchers will be able to order PrimePCR Rat Genome Assays as individual assays (desalted or HPLC-purified), or build a custom plate (96- or 384-well). Assays are available for more than 20,000 rat genes as SYBR®- and probe-based assays with a choice of five different fluorophores.

In addition, SYBR® and probe PrimePCR PreAmp Assays will be available for the rat genome. These preamplification assays allow researchers who are working with limited samples to look at more targets during their qPCR experiments. Bio-Rad’s PreAmp Supermix, along with PrimePCR PreAmp Assays, produces consistent gene expression results while delivering the industry’s lowest bias.

For more information on Bio-Rad’s PrimePCR products, please visit

October 15, 2014 at 8:38 am Leave a comment

Oral Versus Anal: Analyzing the Best Way to Treat Infections Diarrhea

For the last several years the Canadian BioTechnologist has been bringing you news about advances in microbiome biology. Back in August 2009, we reported that Canada had invested millions of dollars in microbiome research by establishing the Canadian Microbiome Initiative (CMI). At the time, CMI invested $13.275 million towards research focused on microbes that colonize the human body in order to: understand of the composition and distribution of the microbial flora in different body sites; gain new insights on the function of the normal flora in healthy individuals; and probe the links between the human microflora and disease. The story was followed by another round of funding to the tune of $14 Million in 2010 and a more focused round of funding by the Canadian Foundation for Innovation in support of the University of Toronto’s Host-Microbiome Network.

The microbiome is a fascinating example of the symbiotic relationship that exists between humans and their bacterial colonizers. Absence or low levels of bacteria that are normally present in the gut of healthy subjects can result in painfully debilitating conditions such as violent diarrhea and unbearable stomach cramps. Much of the research has focused on ways of reintroducing the missing bacteria into the gut of their bacterial-deficient hosts through a process known as fecal transplantation.

In a new study published in the latest edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association, scientists have now come up with an alternative to the somewhat invasive Fecal Transplant; a fecal pill that an be taken orally. The pill, which is comprised of frozen fecal matter, was shown to relieve morbid symptoms of disease in patients infected with Clostridium difficile, providing relief to 90% of suffers lasting up to eight weeks after the fecal pill administration.

It will be interesting to see which method of treatment is preferred by the majority of Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) patients. While a fecal transplant is certainly more invasive than a pill, there is something about ingesting a fecal matter pill that may just be too difficult for some patients to swallow.

What is your opinion?

October 14, 2014 at 3:52 pm Leave a comment

Why International Students are Choosing to Study Science In Canada

October 9, 2014 at 11:42 am Leave a comment

Fun in the Fly Lab

If you’ve ever worked in a fly lab, you’ve probably seen enough flies to last a life time. Dead or alive, flies simply are no fun. Right? We’ll check out what the Muhr Gallery did with his collection of flies. Who ever thought that dead flies could be so cute?

October 8, 2014 at 5:44 am Leave a comment

Fourth Gormer McGill Student Since 2009 to Win a Nobel Prize

McGill alumnus John O’Keefe was named co-winner of the 2014 Nobel Prize in medicine, for his contribution to the discovery of cells that constitute the brain’s ‘inner GPS,’ which makes it possible to orient ourselves in space.

O’Keefe, who received his doctorate in physiological psychology from McGill in 1967, is director of the Sainsbury Wellcome Centre in Neural Circuits and Behaviour at University College London. His co-winners of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine are May-Britt Moser and Edvard I. Moser, both based in scientific institutes in the Norwegian town of Trondheim.

“The discovery of the brain’s positioning system represents a paradigm shift in our understanding of how ensembles of specialized cells work together to execute higher cognitive functions. It has opened new avenues for understanding other cognitive processes, such as memory, thinking and planning,” the Nobel Prize organization said.

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October 6, 2014 at 2:43 pm Leave a comment

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