Turning Stem Cells into Blood

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 07-14-2014

The ability to reliably and safely make in the laboratory all of the different types of cells in human blood is one key step closer to reality.

Writing today in the journal Nature Communications, a group led by University of Wisconsin-Madison stem cell researcher Igor Slukvin reports the discovery of two genetic programs responsible for taking blank-slate stem cells and turning them into both red and the array of white cells that make up human blood.

The research is important because it identifies how nature itself makes blood products at the earliest stages of development. The discovery gives scientists the tools to make the cells themselves, investigate how blood cells develop and produce clinically relevant blood products.

“This is the first demonstration of the production of different kinds of cells from human pluripotent stem cells using transcription factors,” explains Slukvin, referencing the proteins that bind to DNA and control the flow of genetic information, which ultimately determines the developmental fate of undifferentiated stem cells.

During development, blood cells emerge in the aorta, a major blood vessel in the embryo. There, blood cells, including hematopoietic stem cells, are generated by budding from a unique population of what scientists call hemogenic endothelial cells. The new report identifies two distinct groups of transcription factors that can directly convert human stem cells into the hemogenic endothelial cells, which subsequently develop into various types of blood cells.

The factors identified by Slukvin’s group were capable of making the range of human blood cells, including white blood cells, red blood cells and megakaryocytes, commonly used blood products.

Read more…

You Can’t Publish THAT!

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 07-10-2014

This is great but I can’t believe that it actually got published!

Smallpox Anyone?

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 07-09-2014

First it was Anthrax and now it’s Smallpox!!! Last month, we told you about the CDC’s report that as many as 75 CDC scientists may have been exposed to Anthrax when a vial containing the deadly bacteria was accidentally transferred to a low level bio-hazard lab that was ill equipped to handle the stuff. Now, Science Insider is reporting that six vials of smallpox were found by an FDA scientist who was cleaning out his freezer! Apparently, the 60 something year old vials were stuffed in the back of this lab’s freezer or fridge in a poorly labeled cardboard box.

Folks, this is why you don’t store you lunch in the same fridge that you store your lab reagents. Imagine the headlines had the vials been mistaken for savory condiments. Scientist contracts smallpox while accidentally spreading it on his favorite sandwich.

It is also another reason not to buy cheap Sharpie pens. Vials must be labeled clearly and the label must last. Labeling your samples in a code that nobody understands is a surefire way to cause major pandemonium amongst current and future lab-mates. And if the label rubs off, what good was it to begin with? I bet that tens of hands (gloved and ungloved) have touched these poorly-labeled vials of smallpox over the decades.

The article in Science discusses the dangerous possibility that these vials could have fallen into the hands of terrorists and used as bio-weapons. But, as scientists, we should be more worried that the vials could have fallen on anybody’s hands and contaminated the entire lab! This is scary stuff.

To read the article in Science Insider visit Six vials of smallpox discovered in U.S. lab

Can We Trust Western Blots?

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

This is a VERY IMPORTANT video for anyone doing Western Blotting (i.e. everyone!).

Sorting With Safety

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

s3-biosafety-system-class-IBio-Rad Laboratories, Inc. announced the launch of its S3™ Biosafety System Class I, an intelligent aerosol containment hood designed for Bio-Rad’s S3™ Cell Sorter. The system adheres to the biosafety requirements of the International Society for Advancement of Cytometry (ISAC) and protects users and the environment from aerosols created during the cell sorting process.

The S3 Biosafety System Class I encloses the S3 Cell Sorter on the benchtop, providing an alternative to the large and expensive biosafety hoods traditionally used with cell sorters.

Additional benefits of the S3 Biosafety System Class I include:

  • Software control — integrates with Bio-Rad’s S3™ ProSort™ Software, which provides real-time information about biosafety system status, system temperature, and HEPA filter life
  • Fully accessible — offers easy access to the S3 Cell Sorter for cleaning and maintenance via vinyl walls that are magnetically attached to the aluminum biosafety system frame
  • Quiet and energy efficient — generates low vibration and sound levels while specialized fans and low backpressure from the HEPA filter reduce energy usage

For more information about Bio-Rad’s S3 Cell Sorter, please visit www.bio-rad.com/cellsorter.