The discovery of the double-helix structure of DNA 60 years ago led to a revolution in biological science, opening the floodgates for myriad subsequent discoveries and spawning new fields of research. Bio-Rad has been there from the beginning, helping scientists, educators, and clinicians advance basic research and improve healthcare. As we celebrate Bio-Rad’s diamond anniversary, we reflect on the major events in the evolution of life science research, from biochemistry to molecular biology and beyond, and the emergence of modern biotechnology.
One factor that makes glioblastoma cancers so difficult to treat is that malignant cells from the tumors spread throughout the brain by following nerve fibers and blood vessels to invade new locations. Now, researchers have learned to hijack this migratory mechanism, turning it against the cancer by using a film of nanofibers thinner than human hair to lure tumor cells away.
Instead of invading new areas, the migrating cells latch onto the specially-designed nanofibers and follow them to a location – potentially outside the brain – where they can be captured and killed. Using this technique, researchers can partially move tumors from inoperable locations to more accessible ones. Though it won’t eliminate the cancer, the new technique reduced the size of brain tumors in animal models, suggesting that this form of brain cancer might one day be treated more like a chronic disease.
“We have designed a polymer thin film nanofiber that mimics the structure of nerves and blood vessels that brain tumor cells normally use to invade other parts of the brain,” explained Ravi Bellamkonda, lead investigator and chair of the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University. “The cancer cells normally latch onto these natural structures and ride them like a monorail to other parts of the brain. By providing an attractive alternative fiber, we can efficiently move the tumors along a different path to a destination that we choose.”
Details of the technique were reported February 16 in the journal Nature Materials. The research was supported by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health; by Atlanta-based Ian’s Friends Foundation, and by the Georgia Research Alliance. In addition to the Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering, the research team included Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Emory University.
Valentine’s day is coming. Get ready!
High purity protein is a common requirement for biochemical and structural studies. A common approach is to recombinantly express an affinity-tagged version of the protein of interest. This is, however, not always a viable option. Some proteins are unstable or inactive once tagged or require posttranslational modifications that do not permit recombinant expression. In these cases, researchers often settle for lower purity protein rather than exhaustively explore purification options, since the purification optimization process can be time and labor intensive when no particular column resins or buffer conditions are dictated by an affinity tag.
Bio-Rad Laboratories has recently released a study demonstrating how to purify untagged protein to high homogeneity without undergoing laborious manual troubleshooting steps. Bio-Rad’s ChromLab software can be programmed to execute several runs sequentially thereby automating and accelerating this tedious process.
To learn how to purify untagged protein with ease read Protein Purification Workflow Development Using Bio-Rad’s NGC™ Chromatography System.
According to the Science and Engineering Indicators 2014 Report released recently by the National Science Board, spending on academic research decreased significantly in 2012 compared to the period between 2009-2011 (source: academic r&d section of the report). The good news for us life scientists is that the government seems to value life sciences over the physical sciences and has continued to provide the largest portion of the funding pot to researchers in our field.
Furthermore, besides the growth in academic life science funding, lab space for academic R&D has continued to expand, although it has done so at a somewhat slower pace in 2012 compared to prior years. While this may sound like a good indicator of growth, it should be noted that spending on research equipment fell by 1.4% in 2012 which may have a significant impact on scientists’ abilities to perform their work.
Another worrying trend, indicated in the report, is the disproportionate increase in non-faculty positions, such as post-doctoral fellows, in comparison to faculty positions. Furthermore, fewer researchers were tenured in the first decade of the century compared to the late 90s. If we are to believe the law of supply and demand, this lopsidedness will eventually lead to unhappy scientists who are dejected by their inability to obtain faculty positions due to the overpopulation of qualified candidates for very few faculty positions.
Nonetheless, according to the Washington Post, all is not lost. Here are a list of reasons that Washington Post journalist, Lydia DePillis, thinks we should keep our heads held high:
- the US continues to fund its academic R&D at levels that are much higher than the rest of the world
- there are more undergraduate and graduate degrees in science and technology in the US compared to other nations
- America earns more patents than anywhere else in the world
- American collects more royalties compared to other countries
- Most importantly-Americans represent the largest group of scientific publishers which is the ultimate indicator of success among academic researcher
So despite some worrying trends indicated above, the Post seems to indicate that we should consider ourselves lucky that we are living in America where our chance to become successful scientists is much greater than anywhere else in the world.
Would you agree?