Science has recently begun to establish some of the tools that might let us develop a form of synthetic life. Developing cells from scratch ought to let us understand a whole lot more about what actually constitutes a living organism, while making it possible to generate simpler (yet no less sophisticated) life-like organisms that can be more predictably manipulated.1
In vitro fertilization (IVF) clinics specialize in obtaining, storing, and culturing sperm and eggs from donors to generate live embryos. Because they handle large quantities of human-derived primary cells, these labs must be tightly regulated. The guidelines state that every device, including those used to cryogenically store sperm and eggs, must be clearly and permanently labeled with patient identification codes and the date the samples were taken. Many labs will also require that their devices have low levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
Cryogenics is one of the most important fields that has been integrated into biomedical research. It’s employed to store a variety samples, including human tissue specimens, blood samples, and primary cells, making cryogenic storage an essential tool for hospitals and research facilities alike. Here, we’ll briefly explore how the field of cryogenics has developed within the last century to produce the storage equipment used throughout the world to perform ground-breaking research and to discover new medical advances.
Keeping a productive lab running smoothly isn’t an easy thing to do. Below, we’ve listed several tips that can set your lab up for continued success, whether your grant deadlines are fast approaching or you’re dealing with an inordinate number of samples.
In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a common technique utilized by assisted reproductive technology (ART) facilities to fertilize donor eggs, and implant them back into the mother. In addition to performing IVF, these clinics frequently store eggs, sperm, and embryos. Unfortunately, manipulating these cells outside of the human body means they are exposed to many types of airborne pollutants, including volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Though embryos are considered extremely adaptable cells, exposure to VOCs can induce changes in gene expression and regulation, including imprinting and epigenetic alterations, which may affect the outcome of IVF procedures.
Throughout the last several years, scientists have been debating whether there is a reproducibility crisis in biomedical research. It’s no surprise: how often are you able to repeat the exact results of your own experiments, let alone those from another lab? Sure, there’s a certain amount of variability given the nature of complex cellular systems. However, if the idea is to use these findings for something bigger, then reproducing results is critical. So, why does it appear that results can’t be corroborated very frequently? And how big of an issue is it really?
Lab fails happen to the best of us. We started a contest to commemorate the veterans who have experienced these traumatic or hilarious moments. You all sent us your best work, and we’re happy to announce the winners here, in our blog. These lucky people will receive both the distinction of having the best (worst?) lab fail of the month as well as a stylish GiantMicrobes DNA plushy. Without further ado, here are your best lab fails of March 2019:
Anyone who’s ever worked in a research lab knows that failure is as inevitable as death or taxes. Imagine having to perform a finicky technique from scratch, without previous experience or the help of anyone well-versed in it either. After the hundredth time—I swear it took a lot more than that to finally get it right—the stress can become difficult to manage and solutions start to feel like a far-off fantasy. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to manage failure in the lab and come back stronger.
So, it’s your first time running an experiment? Doesn’t matter if it's something as straightforward as PCR or as complex as ChIP, you'll need to figure out what you’re doing and the best way to do it. A well-run lab usually has a large dictionary of standard operating procedures (SOPs) for a variety of techniques. But what if your lab doesn’t have a protocol for the technique you require? Here, we’ll review some best practices for developing your own set of SOPs in the lab and how they’ll help you and others in your lab get consistent results.
Climate change is a global phenomenon with wide-ranging and potentially disastrous effects for the entire human population. The consumption of fossil fuels (e.g. coal, oil, and gas) combined with mass deforestation has led to exorbitantly high atmospheric CO2 levels that were only last recorded 800,000 years ago. These high CO2 levels have resulted in a significant increase in the average global temperature, a key factor that has led to the polar ice caps melting at an accelerated pace, making the seas warmer and sea levels higher.1 Heat waves are much stronger than they used to be, record-breaking hurricanes occur much more frequently than before, and we’ve lost nearly 60% of the world’s wildlife.2 It’s been well-documented that these changes are a result of human activities, as worldwide economic and technological progress has led to a consistent increase in the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. Altogether, this has led to a rise in the average global temperature of nearly one degree Celsius since 1901, with the rate of global warming having doubled since 1975.3