I know there are a lot of you Xenopus folks out there, so here’s your shout-out. You’ve withstood the test of time and the advent of new model systems competing for your affection and you stayed true to the frog. You shall be rewarded for it! Kinda. If my saying”this stuff is cool!” can be construed as an award then you, my friends, have just won it. But I do not share that love for the frog that gave you the cells. Blech. Anyways, here goes….
I’ve been waiting for an in-your-face, monumental news article or discovery to write about this week, and suffice it to say, the world has let me down. So now I am up to my own devices to share some thoughts on cell biology with you, dear scientist and I hope I do not let you down.
I can’t help but conjure up images of Bill Murray in that famous Saturday Night Live Skit: “Everybody get outta here, there’s a lobster loose!” That’s what you might expect, given what certain focus and “advocate” groups who claim to be experts, tell you about genetically modified food.Left to their own devices, they’d work hard to convince all of us that these “Frankenfoods” will someday take over the world and keep us humans in little glass aquariums.I have a very dear Facebook friend who frequently posts links and comments about various companies and farms who use and sell GMO’s to us fo
Picture this, dear scientist: You just got your reviews back from Nature. After sitting on it for 6 months, the editors send your work back to you with great news: You’re going to have your first Nature paper!
Of course, after you do the prescribed sets of experiments your esteem peers outlined for you.
Welcome back, dear scientist. Today I am having sushi for lunch and it made me think about an often overlooked set of cell types that some biologists can be using to make their lives a little easier. Fish cells. Even though fish are easier to keep than mammals, they still have more problems and take longer to generate results than cells in culture. Today we’ll snoop around the world of fish cell culture.
Wolf and Quimby first isolated and maintained cells from a fish yet to be identified. Here’s a link:
“Tribbles” is the name of a gene found in Drosophila. It’s also found in humans. Defects in the Tribble gene in humans results in a particularly aggressive form of leukemia, acute myelogenous leukemia (AML).
Tiggywinkle. Prospero. Decapentaplegia. Mothers Against Decapentaplegia. Lunatic Fringe. One-Eyed Pinhead. Sonic Hedgehog. Half-Baked. Tribbles…….I could go on: Echidna. Dumpy. Half-Pint. Fushi Terazu. I’m Not Dead Yet.….The list is extensive.
Once upon a time, there was a budding scientist, a Master’s student in a small but efficient stem cell lab. He just graduated with honors, majoring in Biology. Four years of hard work, sweat, and tears….all for that little piece of paper that told his parents that their money was well spent.
Why all this fuss over embryonic stem cells when we have perfectly good adult stem cells in our bodies?
I think that’s a great question. Many researchers asked the same one. The short answer is “potency.” Potency in stem cell terms refers to the ability of a specific stem cell to make different mature cell types. The going theory (and I really haven’t seen much in the literature to change my mind) is that the older a person is, the less potent their stem cells are. Here’s a quick breakdown of stem cell potency, from super potent to “not-so-much”:
As we learned last week, ES cells come from the blastocyst stage embryo. We also touched on three ways to obtain ES cells. But I stopped short of describing the actual donated tissue used to make them. So this week, we’ll briefly describe where these precious little cells come from.
Disclaimer: This is not a religious blog, but a scientific one (kinda). That said, the facts presented below are not intended to ruffle any feathers, but to simply outline the biological aspects of a population of stem cells. What I present below is the result of decades of rigorous scientific research, medical knowledge, and peer review. It has been repeated many times over by researchers all over the world, and validated to be deemed correct, and the baseline for much of the science behind the field of regenerative medicine.
It’s summer time so I have some time off from teaching and I’m beginning to feel the “academic itch.” So, I thought it might be a good idea to review the ideas, promises, and issues with stem cell biology. While a lot of the controversy has taken a back seat to other issues, they are still present and I will use this month to present my take on the whole thing. Now although I am far from unbiased, as a scientist I am bound by ethics and my desire to educate (not brainwash), to present a fair and balanced blogpost: So here goes nothing…
Hello again, dear reader. If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m struggling to fill a whole month’s worth of blogs with “Albumin” as my topic. I entertained the idea of spending a whole blog on Green BSA. Until I realized that “Greenish cast” is widely used as a description of the purified powder. While I can appreciate the value of a short blog, anything that can be misconstrued as a twitter tweet just wouldn’t cut it with my blog executive board. So, I decided to take this last week to showcase the stuff I found on the world wide web, about our favorite protein, albumin.
OK folks, today we power through our “Month of Albumin” with a history lesson. I like these because when I do these, I usually learn something new and entertaining. For example, I had no idea that Alexander Fleming was a slob. Next to learning that Einstein failed algebra the first time, that news on Fleming stands as definitive proof that I can still procure that Nobel Prize that the committee seems to keep away from my meaty little paws. So. What juicy tidbits will we learn today? I have no idea. I haven’t written it yet.
So last week, we started our month of albumin celebration with a short blog about human serum albumin. This week, we’ll do the same for a more common lab goodie, bovine serum albumin (BSA). Admittedly, I’m having a bit of trouble coming up with blog-worthy tidbits and information on albumin so if you just bear with me, you may just find some witty banter hidden in there somewhere!
When I was in grad school, I gave a seminar on my research and suggested that it could someday help people suffering from various neurological disorders. After all, I just made an incredible, once in a lifetime discovery! Right? No. I generated yet another variation of transplant experiments that would meet an insurmountable roadblock to the clinic once the fateful questions that floored me are asked: “What real value does this research have in the transplant world for humans?
When I was a kid, I saw a movie about a caveman that met his end by being unceremoniously frozen, found by an anthropologist some 11000 years later, and thawed in a lab. Naturally, he came back to life and lived in some sort of biosphere. True story (my recollection of the movie, not the reanimated Cro-Magnon). The premise was that you can freeze a body, which is apparently little more than a collection of cells, thaw it, and have the cells survive, and teach said bucket of cells Neil Young tunes (I’m serious. I saw this movie on HBO in the eighties).
We all know why pen-strep is in our cultures. But when you landed your first lab gig as a student, did you really know why your PI had upwards of 15 antibiotics in the freezer? I didn’t. True, most of us are pretty familiar with the use of antibiotics as selection agents, but some people still ask how it works. Well, fasten your seatbelt! I’m fixin’ to shed some knowledge and it’s coming your way! No Holiday Inn Express needed!
Streptomycin, ampicillin, kanamycin, neomycin, gentimicin, et al…Antibiotics. There are a ton of them out there, and it all started with Alexander Fleming’s seminal discovery that his bacterial cultures wouldn’t grow around the mold that was contaminating his dishes (Thank goodness he kept a slovenly lab, eh?). Actually, what he saw was that this mold was destroying the bacteria surrounding it. After some investigation, he discovered that the mold, a member of the Penicillium genus secretes a substance he originally referred to as “mould juice” and was toxic to Staphylococcus.
I never really had a reason to use the phrase ”The Fungus Among us.” Until Now. That’s because I’m going to share my thoughts on amphotericin (Yes, I have thoughts on amphotericin!). Most of us know this fungicide by one trade name or another (insert yours here) and I’m willing to bet that if you’ve been doing cell culture for any extended time, you’ve either used it or talked about it. That’s because there is, indeed, fungus among us. Everywhere … and in some places, it is much more prevalent than others.