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Cells and Model Organisms

Cre-loxP Recombination Essentials Part 1

You might have heard of the Cre-loxP system even if you are not directly working with genetic manipulation. The Cre-loxP system is an ubiquitous technology for genetic manipulation and a mainstay in mouse research labs. With this system you can delete genes in cells, specific tissues and even whole organisms! You can start to master this system by…

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Mini Me: What Makes for Good Models of Human Disease?

One of the major roadblocks to the development of novel therapies is the lack of robust and reliable animal models. Selecting and validating animal models that mimic human conditions is challenging, especially when faced with chronic multi-factorial diseases such as diabetes and obesity. Acknowledging this problem, the National Institutes of Health initiated the Animal Models…

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Simple Tips for Model Organism-Based Work

Simple Tips for Model Organism-Based Work The mouse is the favored model organism for life science researchers so much so that mice account for about 95% of all lab animals used in research. The striking similarities between the human and mouse genomes, ease of genetic manipulation and the uniformity achieved through inbred mating makes them…

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Top 5 of the most commonly used cell lines!

Cell lines are an invaluable scientific tool. They allow us to dissect the internal workings of tissues in a controlled environment without the ethical implications of working with whole organisms. Starting with the first successful immortal cell line HeLa, the number of available cell lines has since diversified into a plethora of options. Just like model…

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Setting up a Fermentation or Perpetuum Mobile Cell Culture

Some names are confusing. For example, ant-lion is not an ant – or a lion. Likewise, fermentation in the scientific sense does not involve using a ferment or brewing beer. In science, fermentation is the setting up of a long-term culture of eukaryotic or prokaryotic cells. Fermentation is invaluable in providing a steady flow of…

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Earn That Green Thumb! An Introduction to Working in a Greenhouse

If you have worked in a lab before, you probably think you are prepared to work anywhere. You’ve done the safety classes, know how to store the chemicals, even know how to work the chemical shower. Unfortunately, that doesn’t fully prepare you for greenhouse work. Greenhouses are a different kind of greenery-filled animal entirely, and…

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Automated Cell Counting with a Fluorescent Twist

Cell counting is the bane of existence of many researchers. Countless hours spent in front of the microscope with a haemocytometer on the stand and a manual tally (or “clicker”) in hand can be really daunting. Not to mention that no one will ever double check your count if you don’t take a picture. Those…

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Laboratory Animal Ethics: The Three Rs

Animal models have helped make enormous discoveries and breakthroughs in the last few decades. From Pasteur’s use of sheep to test the ‘Germ Theory’, Pavlov’s classic conditioning experiments in dogs, to Dolly the first cloned mammal, animal research has come a long way. Today, most drugs, vaccines and other pharmaceutical products for medical use are…

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Basic Bacterial Culturing Practices

Mastering basic bacterial culturing practices is a must if you are planning a career in microbiology! Growing bacteria might be one of the easiest things to do as a scientist. Also, as you’ve probably discovered, it’s even easier to do when you’re trying to prevent bacteria from growing where it shouldn’t be!! When we go…

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World of Microbes Part 4: Food and Biofuels.

In this World of Microbes series, so far we’ve covered the importance of microbes in medicine including their use in vaccines, antibiotics, probiotics and protein production of antibodies for immunotherapy. Now we’ll diverge away from medicine and explore two other important fields where microbes are invaluable – food production and biofuel. Food Production When you…

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Mastering the Art of Growing THP-1 cells

Tissue culture can sometimes seem like a black art. Too careful—your cells go down. Not careful enough—your cells go down. A butterfly flutters its wings in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean—your cells go down. It’s annoying, it’s frustrating, and there are times (and I’m speaking from personal experience here) that you’ll end up chucking…

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Pre-Analytical Sample Handling: What Can You Do Better?

If you study human disease, you will likely handle a pre-analytical sample or two (or hundreds).  For example, you could handle whole blood, serum or plasma, tissue biopsies, urine, fecal samples, cerebrospinal fluid, or synovial fluid—to name a few. You will probably use these samples to look for specific metabolites, proteins, or nucleic acids that provide…

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Three Steps for Setting up a Drug Screening Assay

An anti-cancer drug or antibody drug conjugate (ADC) screening assay is the first step to establish the utility of a drug candidate in killing cancer cells. Nevertheless, these assays are time consuming and tedious. The purpose of this article is to make things easier when you are required to set up these in vitro screening…

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Introducing You to the Wonderful World of Microbes!

Welcome to the microbe series where we have a very exciting line-up planned over the coming months. Here we will talk about everything microbial, including the uses of microbes in industry and medicine, emerging pathogens, diagnostics, and much, much more! Let’s kick off this series with an introduction into these wonderful, yet sometimes nasty, organisms…

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Four Tips for Working with Human Clinical Samples

While using human clinical samples in your research can provide robust and heterogeneous results applicable to larger portions of the population, working with these samples presents its own set of challenges. Here are some tricks I have learned to help isolate and grow your cells of interest while eliminating stromal, blood, or other undesired contaminants.…

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AAV Production Part I: Tips for Setting Up

What is Adeno-Associated Virus? Adeno-associated virus (AAV) is a popular gene therapy vector. Different AAV serotypes infect different cell and tissue types with varying efficiency, so it’s a good idea to select the serotype most relevant to your work. The most commonly used AAV serotypes are 1, 2, 5, 6, 8, 9 and DJ, although…

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How to Overcome Minor Issues in Anchorage-Independent Assays

Anchorage-independent assays test the ability of cells to grow independent of a solid surface. The assay is used to check the malignant potential of cancer cells. Cancer researchers generally do this experiment for any kind of confirmation of the oncogenic potential of an oncogene or a tumor suppressor in cancer cells. However, we do encounter…

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Phagebiotics: Part 1

The enemy of my enemy is my friend –Ancient Sanskrit proverb Luna, 20 July 1969. Neil Armstrong set his foot in another world for the first and only time in human history. But this is not a story about space exploration; it is a story about the vehicle they used to do it—the Lunar Module…

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Six Steps to Successful Mouse Genotyping

An essential step in mouse breeding is genotyping them to determine the genotype of every mouse in the litter. It is also useful to differentiate between various groups of experimental mice if any confusion arises. When genotyping, you will be hunting for the specific gene that you want your mice to have or a genetic…

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