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Do NOT Let This Man Into Your Lab!

August 28, 2014 at 2:25 pm Leave a comment

The Disadvantage of Long-Distance Relationships

Despite advanced communication technologies that enable distance collaboration, working side-by-side can generate true synergy – an extra bounce that carries a project beyond the initial design, says Dr. Mei Zhen, Senior Investigator at Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute.

Dr. Zhen returned in early August from working with her collaborators at Harvard University on their comprehensive neuronal map of the juvenile C. elegans, the pin-head sized nematode worm. “When we started working face-to-face, we realized that we had underappreciated both capacity and challenges on each side. The project turns out to be much harder than we had envisioned. By working together on-site we not only solved existing problems, but – also unexpectedly – took the project design to the next level,” she says. She extended her stay at Harvard from nine months to almost a year.

Her collaborator Dr. Aravi Samuel adds, “There’s a reason that no one has tried to reconstruct whole worms at electron-microscope resolution in almost 30 years: It’s the Mount Everest of structural neurobiology. Only with worms can we dream of using large numbers of connectomes of worms that have key differences, whether caused by development, genetics, or even learning, to uncover how circuits encode behavior.”

Read more…

August 27, 2014 at 2:18 pm Leave a comment

Droplet Digital™ PCR Tips & Tricks: ddPCR™ Assay Design

August 26, 2014 at 7:12 am Leave a comment

Skip RNA Purification and Still Receive Awesome RT-qPCR Results

Bio-Rad Laboratories announced the launch of new rapid cell lysis kits that allow researchers to obtain reverse transcription quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR) data directly from cultured cells without the need for a separate RNA purification step. Bio-Rad’s SingleShot™ family of cell lysis RT-qPCR kits provide high-quality gene expression results in less than two hours.

Available column isolation methods for purifying RNA are time-consuming and laborious while other methods that enable RT-qPCR directly from cell lysates can damage the RNA and result in poor genomic DNA clearance. However, Bio-Rad’s SingleShot Kits eliminate those challenges and offer superior reproducibility and accuracy of gene expression results. In addition, minimal setup and pipetting steps create an automation-friendly workflow and, unlike other similar methods, Bio-Rad’s kits do not require an additional pipetting step to stop the cell lysis reaction.


The SingleShot Kit removed genomic DNA (Cq > 40) while another available kit resulted in poor genomic DNA clearance.

The SingleShot Kit removed genomic DNA (Cq > 40) while another available kit resulted in poor genomic DNA clearance.


“The SingleShot Kits are ideally suited for high-throughput laboratories with large-volume workloads and for researchers who are faced with a limited number of cells and require extreme accuracy in each analysis,” said Paul Streng, senior product manager in the Gene Expression Division of Bio-Rad’s Life Science Group.

Bio-Rad’s SingleShot Kits are the only available kits that include an RNA control template and qPCR assay to help researchers determine optimal cell number and lysate inputs for their RT-qPCR reactions.

SingleShot Kits are validated for use with a wide variety of adherent and suspension cell lines and are offered in multiple formats, including one-step RT-qPCR and two-step RT-qPCR kits that are compatible with either SYBR® Green or probe-based assays. SingleShot Kits are available as a stand-alone cell lysis kit. All SingleShot Kits are validated for use with PrimePCR™ Assays and Panels.

August 20, 2014 at 2:40 pm Leave a comment

Animations Help Scientists Test Hypothesis

August 19, 2014 at 4:35 pm Leave a comment

Could Probiotics Be the Next Big Thing in Parenting?

New University of British Columbia research found that receiving antibiotic treatments early in life can increase susceptibility to specific diseases later on.

Most bacteria living in the gut play a positive role in promoting a healthy immune system, but antibiotic treatments often do not discriminate between good and bad bacteria. The study published today in Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology helps scientists understand how different antibiotics affect good bacteria.
“This is the first step to understanding which bacteria are absolutely necessary to develop a healthy immune system later in life,” says Kelly McNagny, a professor in the Dept. of Medical Genetics who led the research along with UBC microbiologist Brett Finlay.

The researchers tested the impact of two antibiotics, vancomycin and streptomycin, on newborn mice. They found that streptomycin increased susceptibility to a disease known as hypersensitivity pneumonitis later in life, but vancomycin had no effect. The difference in each antibiotic’s long-term effects can be attributed to how they changed the bacterial ecosystem in the gut. Hypersensitivity pneumonitis is an allergic disease found in people with occupations such as farming, sausage-making, and cleaning hot tubs.

The researchers stress that infants should be treated with antibiotics when needed, but they hope these results will help pinpoint which bacteria make us less susceptible to disease. This could open up the possibility of boosting helpful bacteria through the use of probiotics.

“Probiotics could be the next big trend in parenting because once you know which bacteria prevent disease, you can make sure that children get inoculated with those bacteria,” says McNagny.

Thanks to the University of British Columbia for contributing this story.

August 18, 2014 at 2:21 pm Leave a comment

What Does the Plant Say?

August 13, 2014 at 3:52 pm Leave a comment

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