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Techniques

How to Grow Corn in a Greenhouse

Because of the ease of performing controlled crosses, maize (or corn (Zea mays)), has been a staple of plant genetics research for decades. Barbara McClintock herself chose maize as her research organism for her Nobel Prize winning work. If you are looking to get involved but aren’t sure how to get good yields in the…

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4 Major Things to Consider Before Lysing Your Cells

You’ve cultured your cells and completed your treatments, now it’s time to harvest them and proceed to the downstream assays. Cell lysis is the crucial stage that determines if your experiment has a chance of producing the data that you have been waiting for. Part of the starting biological material is inevitably lost on each…

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An Introduction to Chimeric Antigen Receptors (CARs)

You may have heard about a breakthrough cancer therapy that engineers patient’s immune cells to fight their cancer using  chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-T cells. If you don’t live in the world of immunology, you may not know what a CAR is, or what it is used for. Here you’ll find a brief guide to CARs,…

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4 Important Considerations for Your Cell Lysis

You’ve cultured your cells and completed your treatments, now it’s time to harvest them and proceed to the downstream effects. Cell lysis is the crucial stage that determines if your experiment has a chance of producing the data that you have been waiting for. Part of the starting biological material is inevitably lost on each…

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An Introduction to Cardiac Optical Mapping

What Is Optical Mapping and How Is It Used? Synchronisation of the contraction of heart muscle is essential for the efficient pumping of blood through the circulatory system. Cardiac contraction is controlled by the regulated spread of electrical impulses from cell-to-cell within the heart.  In pathological conditions, these electrical impulses can become disordered and lead…

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New-ISH on the Block: Introduction to RNAscope®

When sensitive detection of RNA is required, many scientists turn to qPCR as it is a versatile technique that can detect many different types of RNAs from mRNA, non-coding RNA, to microRNA. However, if you also require spatial information, like which cells are producing your RNA, the technology of choice has historically been in situ…

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Generating High-Quality Genome Assemblies from Metagenomic Sequencing

The decreasing costs in genomic sequencing over the past decade have inspired researchers to apply shotgun next-generation sequencing to entire microbial communities. While the reads generated typically cannot be assembled cleanly into individual genomes, there is often enough information produced to identify most microbes present in the population. However, this approach lacks sufficient resolution to…

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Immuno-PCR: A Highly Sensitive Method of Immunodetection

Researchers have relied on immunodetection techniques such as Western blotting, flow cytometry and Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) for years, but immuno-PCR is a relatively new method. By merging an ELISA with the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), immuno-PCR provides extremely high levels of assay sensitivity. ELISA An ELISA is an assay in which a molecule is…

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Fishing for Kinases with Multiplex Inhibitor Bead Assays

There is something about kinases that resemble ghosts. Their effects reveal their presence, but they can be difficult to catch. With a low abundance of hundreds or even tens of molecules per cell, they are difficult to detect using conventional methods such as Western blotting or mass spectrometry (MS). However, you will need to detect…

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Epidemiology: The Underdog of Disease Studies

As bench scientists, we deal primarily with the tangible aspects of biology. The mechanisms and pathways that we try to understand not only allow for us to delve more into how the world works, but can also shed light on disease. However, there is a subject that while distant from traditional bench work, is equally…

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Top Five Methods for Primary Antibody Labeling

In any application that uses antibodies for signal detection (e.g., Western blotting, ELISA, immunohistochemistry, or FACS), there are two approaches to antibody labeling: direct and indirect labeling. Standard Western blotting uses indirect labeling because you use a primary antibody to detect the target antigen, followed by a secondary antibody to which a detection molecule is…

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An Experimental Tool-kit for Measuring Protein Stability

Proteins in the cell are in a constant flux governed by events including synthesis and degradation. In an effort to make cells more efficient by reducing the unnecessary protein load, most proteins in the cell have a specifically defined half-life. Another reason why cells have evolved to degrade proteins is to ensure timely removal of…

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Get to Know Your Reference Genome (GRCh37 vs GRCh38)

Whether your experiment relies upon a reference-based genome assembly or mapping reads to a reference genome to identify variants, you need to choose a human reference genome assembly. But wait! You go to the FTP site of NCBI’s refseq and click on the Homo sapiens folder. There you are presented with two choices. Which one…

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CRISPR-Inspired Method Targets Large, Repetitive DNA Elements

Target capture through PCR has been a mainstay in genomics for years, but scientists working on especially repetitive, poorly characterized, or rapidly evolving regions continue to struggle to fish out those stretches of DNA for further study. However, whole genome sequencing, the only other alternative for these regions, can force researchers to pay for much…

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Extracting Circulating microRNA, Part Two: Isolation Methods

In the second part of this two part series on analyzing extracellular microRNA (miRNA) from blood or serum, we continue with the methods for miRNA extraction. Generally, there are two different approaches for microRNA isolation. The first of these is organic, liquid-liquid. The total RNA extraction method employs phenol/chloroform isolation with guanidine isotiocyanate as a…

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