High-Performance Immunoprecipitation at an Affordable Price

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 08-12-2014

Bio-Rad Laboratories, Inc. announced that it has launched its SureBeads Magnetic Bead System, which provides researchers with a faster and easier alternative to agarose beads for immunoprecipitation for as low as half the price of other available magnetic bead systems. Benefits include reduced antibody consumption and sample loss, very low nonspecific binding, and optimized IgG binding capacity.

Researchers have traditionally used agarose beads to precipitate and enrich proteins prior to western blotting or mass spectrometry. This process is time-consuming and labor-intensive, and often causes the beads to perform poorly. Since agarose beads are porous, the antibody can remain trapped inside the bead and therefore is unable to properly bind the protein of interest, requiring researchers to use more antibody.

Although magnetic beads are often more expensive, they are an attractive alternative to agarose beads for several reasons, including ease of use at the bench: magnetization is faster and more convenient than centrifugation for sample precipitation and washing steps. With the launch of the SureBeads System, scientists now have access to a high-performance, cost-effective magnetic bead system.

SureBeads Protein A and G Conjugated Magnetic Beads are designed to work with the proprietary SureBeads 16-Tube Magnetic Rack, which offers a one-piece removable magnetic strip to improve sample handling and eliminate repeated centrifugation steps, so researchers are able to achieve results up to six times faster.

“I have used magnetic bead–based systems for more than three years now, and the quality of the new SureBeads System is among the best in the field,” said Oliver Wueseke, PhD student at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden, Germany. “The real innovation resides in the rack. The slidable magnet, preferred fixation of tubes in the rack, and spacing between tubes that allows easy access to the tube lids make the SureBeads System easy to handle, faster, and more convenient.“

Visit www.bio-rad.com/NewSureBeads for more information about the SureBeads System and to learn about current product promotions.

Entertained by a Statistician

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 08-11-2014

I have always found statistics to be quite dry and boring. I prefer to see results and let someone else figure out whether or not they are meaningful. In fact, I prefer to fool myself into believing that my data is statistically significant rather than crunch numbers. However, when I saw the title of this video “Own your body’s data,” I was intrigued and so I clicked through, and I’m glad that I did. I found Dr. Talithia Williams video to be quite entertaining and informative and I hope that you do too.

Children Ask “How Do I Become a Scientist?”

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 08-07-2014

The National Eye Institute at the NIH recently released a kids video series called “Ask a Scientist.” In this series, children who are curious about science, ask “bonafide” scientists their burning questions about science. In one video, a child asks Dr. Chris Thomas, a science writer, how to become a scientist. Dr. Thomas responds by saying that becoming a scientist “is easy” and all that kids need to do is to love nature and be curious about how things work. He also says that kids can hone their scientific skills by taking either science or art classes.

Putting aside the fact that the target audience for this video is young, school-aged children, do you feel that Chris’ response is an oversimplification of reality? Is science really all about nature and curiosity?

While I happen to agree with Dr. Thomas that curiosity lies at the heart of what it takes to become interested in science, I believe that hard work and perseverance are tantamount to scientific success. Think about all of those times that you’ve had to repeat experiments over and over just to get your p values to a publishable level!

Have a look at Chris’ video below and let us know what you think.

C. Elegans is Cool Again!

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 08-06-2014

A Revolution in Pipetting

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 08-05-2014

A team of Whitehead Institute researchers is bringing new levels of efficiency and accuracy to one of the most essential albeit tedious tasks of bench science: pipetting. And, in an effort to aid the scientific community at large, the group has established an open source system that enables anyone to benefit from this development free of charge.

Dubbed “iPipet,” the system converts an iPad or any tablet computer into a “smart bench” that guides the execution of complex pipetting protocols. iPipet users can also share their pipetting designs with each other, distributing expertise across the research community. The system, created by researchers in the lab of Whitehead Fellow Yaniv Erlich, is described in detail in a letter appearing this week in the journal Nature Methods.

Erlich says that today’s experiments frequently rely on high-throughput methods that combine large numbers of samples with large scale, complex pipetting designs. Pipetting errors can lead to experimental failure. Although liquid-handling robots would seem to be a logical choice for such work, they are also extremely expensive, difficult to program, and require trained personnel. Moreover, they can be plagued by technical snafus, ranging from bent or clogged tips to an inability to capture liquids lying close to the bottoms of individual wells.

“We needed an alternative to costly robots that would allow us to execute complex pipetting protocols,” says Erlich. “This is especially important when working with human samples that are often in limited supply.”

iPipet illuminates individual wells of standard 96- or 384-well plates placed on top of a tablet screen, guiding users through the transfer of samples or reagents from source to destination plates according to specific designs. Users create their own protocols in Microsoft Excel files in comma-separated format and upload them to the iPipet website, which generates a downloadable link for execution on a tablet computer. Included on the iPipet site are a variety demos and an instructional video.

So, how well does iPipet work? Beautifully, according to members of the Erlich lab. In a test of the tool against a liquid-handling robot, iPipet enabled nearly 3,000 fixed-volume pipetting steps in approximately seven hours. After significant time spent on calibration, the robot accomplished only half that number of steps in the same allotted time. To date, one of the only challenges lab users have encountered is keeping well plates in a fixed position on the tablet screen. For that, Erlich’s team provides a solution: a 3D printed plastic adaptor that users can create with a file accessible via the iPipet website.

“The entire iPipet system is open source,” says Erlich. “We want to maximize the benefit for the community and allow them to further develop this new man-machine interface for biological experiments”

Thanks to Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research for contributing this story.