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Tens of Thousands of Lab Animals Perish in Hurricane Sandy

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 03-06-2013

Several tens of thousands of lab mice died during this passed winter’s devastating storm. While the human death toll of Hurricane Sandy was thankfully small, laboratory animals in the NYU Langone Medical Center were trapped by the water that flooded the hospital’s basement and large stocks of genetically engineered animals were lost.

According to a story in ALN Magazine, as many as 600 mice were lost by one individual researcher and it will take over a year to recover from the devastating loss.

But can there ever be a real recovery? Imagine being a 4th year PhD student looking forward to finishing up the final touches on his project before defending in the summer. What about the foreign post-doc who left her home and family to travel to New York for a year to do critical research that was going to help her secure an academic position in a university back home.

This is true devastation. The sweat and tears that go into everything scientists do. The late nights and weekends lost in the lab running experiences and taking care of precious animals. All for naught. All is lost.

My thoughts go out to those scientists that were truly affected by Hurrican Sandy.

Care to share your thoughts?

A better way to culture central nervous cells

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 01-29-2013

A protein associated with neuron damage in people with Alzheimer’s disease is surprisingly useful in promoting neuron growth in the lab, according to a new study by engineering researchers at Brown University. The findings, in press at the journal Biomaterials, suggest a better method of growing neurons outside the body that might then be implanted to treat people with neurodegenerative diseases.

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Curious George Meets Muhammad Ali

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 12-20-2012

Are you a monkey or a man? According to a recent study out of the University of Utah, that all depends on how hard you can punch. Compared with apes, humans have shorter palms and fingers and longer, stronger, flexible thumbs – features that have been long thought to have evolved so our ancestors had the manual dexterity to make and use tools.

“The role aggression has played in our evolution has not been adequately appreciated,” says University of Utah biology Professor David Carrier, senior author of the study, published recently in the Journal of Experimental Biology.

As our ancestors evolved, “an individual who could strike with a clenched fist could hit harder without injuring themselves, so they were better able to fight for mates and thus more likely to reproduce,” he says. Fights also were for food, water, land and shelter to support a family, and “over pride, reputation and for revenge,” he adds.

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Researchers define key events early in the process of cellular aging

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 11-22-2012

For the first time, scientists at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center have defined key events that take place early in the process of cellular aging.

Together the discoveries, made through a series of experiments in yeast, bring unprecedented clarity to the complex cascade of events that comprise the aging process and pave the way to understanding how genetics and environmental factors like diet interact to influence lifespan, aging and age-related diseases such as cancer and neurodegenerative disorders.

The findings, including unexpected results that link aspects of aging and lifespan to a mechanism cells use to store nutrients, are described in the Nov. 21 issue of Nature by co-authors Daniel Gottschling, Ph.D., a member of the Hutchinson Center’s Basic Sciences Division, and Adam Hughes, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow in the Gottschling Lab.

The researchers found the acidity of a structure in yeast cells known as the vacuole is critical to aging and the functioning of mitochondria – the power plants of the cell. They also describe a novel mechanism, which may have parallels in human cells, by which calorie restriction extends lifespan.

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Bio-Rad Receives Award in Quantitative and Digital PCR Instrumentation

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 11-19-2012

Bio-Rad Laboratories, Inc. announced it has received the Frost & Sullivan 2012 North American Market Penetration Leadership Award in Quantitative and Digital PCR Instrumentation. This annual award honors the company that has demonstrated excellence by growing market share at the fastest rate in its industry, as measured by revenues or units sold.

Frost & Sullivan, a global growth consulting company, cited findings from its best practices research that show Bio-Rad has built a solid reputation in amplification technologies. According to Frost & Sullivan’s research, Bio-Rad continually releases innovative products to earn customer loyalty and gain market share, with particularly strong market positions in both the real-time PCR (qPCR) and digital (dPCR) instrumentation markets.

“Bio-Rad clearly exhibits some of the key traits shared by the most successful companies: the ability to locate and solve unmet needs in the markets they serve and a dedication to continuous R&D,” said Christi Bird, life sciences senior industry analyst at Frost & Sullivan. “Bio-Rad’s commitment to innovation, coupled with its keen focus on other qualities valued most by its customers, has resulted in a strong and growing market position that makes the company an ideal recipient of this year’s Frost & Sullivan Market Penetration Leadership Award.”

“We are honored to receive recognition of our leadership in the real-time and digital PCR markets,” said Rachel Scott, amplification instruments business unit marketing manager at Bio-Rad. “The Frost & Sullivan award is a reflection of how we strive to develop innovative new solutions that align with the needs of the research community in terms of both technology and pricing.”

Frost & Sullivan expects Bio-Rad to continue its market share gains in qPCR with several instruments launched in 2011, including the CFX96 Touch™ and CFX Connect™ real-time PCR detection systems.

In the dPCR market, Frost & Sullivan believes the QX100™ Droplet Digital™ PCR system holds the greatest promise of all dPCR instruments currently on the market, due to its simplicity, performance, and affordability. The QX100 system has already received significant attention from pharmaceutical companies and cancer research laboratories, leading Frost & Sullivan to believe that the instrument will be the early market leader in the expanding dPCR market.

“Bio-Rad has also seen a great deal of interest from the growing molecular diagnostic market,” said James Lee, Droplet Digital PCR commercialization marketing manager at Bio-Rad. “We plan to participate in this market in the near future using our ddPCR™ technology.”

Bio-Rad was honored with this recognition at Frost & Sullivan’s 2012 Excellence in Best Practices Awards Banquet on November 8 in San Antonio, Texas. The event highlighted companies, strategies, processes, and executives that have achieved world-class performance within their industries.

For more information about Bio-Rad’s PCR products, visit