Posts tagged ‘Cell Culture’

Commemorating the 60th Anniversary of Henrietta Lacks Death

Despite her tragic life as a poor black woman in America in the 1950’s (with all its associated implications), Henrietta Lacks was destined to become an invaluable source of progress to future scientific generations. A quick search of Pubmed reveals that over 68,000 papers have been published that reference HeLa cells with a number of Nobel Prize winning discoveries counted among them.

Tremendous credit should be given to Rebecca Skloot , author of “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” for bringing Henrietta’s story to life and giving Henrietta and her family the recognition that they deserve.

This week marked the 60th anniversary of Henrietta’s death on October 4, 1951 at the tender age of 31. May she rest in peace and continue to be a source of pride for the scientific community and mankind.

October 5, 2011 at 10:39 am Leave a comment

McGill Scientists invent a unique new tool for cell culture enthusiasts

A team from Montreal has invented a miniature cellular vacuum cleaner that can be used for selectively delivering molecular material to cells as well as creating chemical gradients used in experiments such as cell mobility studies.

The device is fabricated by etching four holes in a silicon tip, which is about 1 mm square. When the device is brought close to a surface, it acts on it pretty much like a water jet vacuum cleaner would. Two apertures (the “plus” holes, or sources) emit microscopic jets of fluid, onto the surface below and the two other apertures (the “minus” holes, or drains), immediately suck them back into the device.

In the vacuum cleaner analogy, if the carpet is replaced by a slice of living tissue, or a layer of adherent cells, the device can float over that surface to reach a desired target. It then simply sends out a stream of fluid with the chemicals needed to stimulate, probe, detach or kill the cells, depending on the application

Click here for further details.

September 28, 2011 at 7:27 am Leave a comment

Fighting cancer with measels

Canadian researchers have discovered that a tumor cell marker is a receptor for measles virus, suggesting the possible use of measles virus to help fight cancer. Their findings appear in the Open Access journal PLoS Pathogens .

Figure 2 shows that PVRL4 can function as an entry factor for the w/t measels virus

In a nutshell, Christopher D. Richardson and his team at Dalhousie University showed that measles virus can infect human airway epithelial cells and many adenocarcinoma cell lines. They also demonstrated that PVRL4, a tumour marker that is highly expressed on many lung, breast, colon, and ovarian tumors, converts cells that were resistant to measles viral infections, to cells that could support virus infections. Hence, the authors suggest that future experiments be done to investigate whether an oncolytic measels virus can be used to specifically target tumour cells expressing PVRL4, thus preferentially targetting lung, breast, colon and ovarian tumour cells.

Click here for more.

Citation: Ryan S. Noyce, Daniel G. Bondre, Michael N. Ha, Liang-Tzung Lin, Gary Sisson, Ming-Sound Tsao, & Christopher D. Richardson (2011). Tumor Cell Marker PVRL4 (Nectin 4) Is an Epithelial Cell Receptor for Measles Virus PLoS Pathogens : doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1002240

September 7, 2011 at 8:31 am Leave a comment

How to obtain statistically significant Western Blots

Western Blotting is probably one of the most ubiquitous techniques in the molecular biology lab and relatively easy to perform. Yet many of us have been frustrated with statistically insignificant results or protein bands that appear either too dark or too light to quantitate.

Well, do not despair! There are many things you can do to help improve the quality of your blots and increase your likelihood of obtaining statistically significant results!

In the video below, you will learn about the many factors affecting western blot analysis (such as detection limit and dynamic range limitations of film and overloaded gels) and what can be done to improve your chances of success.

The presentation was given by Bio-Rad Laboratories Field Application Specialist Dr. Sean Taylor as part of an intimate customer training. Some of the references in the presentation may be specific for that particular customer but the general information contained in this presentation is highly valuable to all molecular biology labs.

September 6, 2011 at 8:55 am 1 comment

Cell counting as easy as 1,2,3

I hate counting cells. It is a tedious and boring process that is time consuming and inaccurate. However, there is another solution. Checkout this link with a video demonstration of Bio-Rad Laboratories TC-10 cell counter . Can you say Load, Insert and View Results? Can’t get much easier than that!

To schedule a live demo, fill out the contact info on the

September 5, 2011 at 9:24 am Leave a comment

OpenFreezer: The ultimate open-source program for tracking reagent collection

Researchers at the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute of Mount Sinai Hospital, led by Dr. Karen Colwill and Marina Olhovsky, have developed an open-source, web-based tool to track both large-scale datasets and individual reagents, allowing for easy access, sharing and management of data across various projects and research groups. The software is described in the August issue of Nature Methods.
Before now, scientists had limited affordable resources to track and manage the rapid growth of large-scale reagent collections.

“At the Lunenfeld, we have extensive DNA and RNAi collections that are shared among multiple laboratories,” said Dr. Colwill, senior author of the study and a staff scientist in Dr. Tony Pawson’s lab. “OpenFreezer efficiently manages these reagents and allows us to access them as needed. Designed by biologists and backed by powerful computer technologies, OpenFreezer offers other scientists an affordable and effective route to manage and archive their own reagents.”

Currently, the software is being used by more than 150 scientists at the Lunenfeld covering multiple expertise areas including cancer biology, systems biology and proteomics. Dr. Colwill expects that scientists internationally will utilize OpenFreezer for research endeavours across multiple aspects of biomedical research.

OpenFreezer offers scientists several advantages including:

  • Permanent storage and archiving at a single site, with simultaneous access for an unlimited number of users;
  • Ability to add new reagents and customize existing ones;
  • Three central modules that allow users to track information on an unlimited number of labs, users and projects; assess the properties of different reagents; and determine the locations of a reagent’s physical preparations.

“Computer processing power makes a great difference in its potential to expedite genetic research via sophisticated data warehousing and management tools, such as OpenFreezer,” says Marina Olhovsky, a software engineer in Dr. Pawson’s lab and first author of the study. “OpenFreezer provides a foundation for the operation of a laboratory within an enterprise software application framework. We encourage biologists and computer scientists to assist us with the future development of OpenFreezer.”

Marina wishes to dedicate OpenFreezer to her mother, Larisa Olhovsky, who lost an untimely battle with cancer in 2006. “This is Mom’s legacy. I dedicate this work in her memory as a guiding light for biological researchers on their path towards winning the battle against cancer and other diseases,” says Marina.

The software is freely available for demonstration and download under the GNU General Public License on the OpenFreezer website at

Citation: OpenFreezer: a reagent information management software system. M. Olhovsky et al. Nature Methods 8, 612-613 doi:10.1038/nmeth.1658

Thanks to the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute for this story.

August 23, 2011 at 6:04 am 1 comment

Modernizing western blotting

Western blotting originated in the laboratory of George Stark at Stanford in 1979 (click here to read George’s autobiography published in JBC) and was later improved upon by other scientists around the world. While western blotting has become one of the most important techniques in the study of proteins, classical tank and semi-dry eletrophoretic transfer techniques have remained virtually unchanged for the past few decades.

Since the pace of scientific discovery grows exponentially over time it makes sense that classic techniques should be “modernized” to meet the challenges of our fast-paced research environment. Check out the video below to learn how Bio-Rad’s new Trans Blot Turbo helps researchers signinficantly speed up the pace of their protein transfer over classical tank and semi-dry blotting techniques.

Bio-Rad Video 5/11/11 from Lab Manager Magazine on Vimeo.

August 22, 2011 at 8:11 am Leave a comment

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