With new artificial intelligence (AI) technology primed to revolutionize medicine, including diagnostics and drug discovery, it was only a matter of time until scientists decided to use AI to solve the question no one has yet been able to answer: why do we age at all?
The Society for Laboratory Automation and Screening (SLAS) recently held their second Sample Management Symposium in Boston, MA. I was there on behalf of GA International to cover some of the new trends in sample management being implemented in biotech and pharmaceutical companies across North America.
Labs have been using cryogenics for years to store human and animal tissue samples, cell lines, and extracts. Freezing ultimately helps preserve these samples, but for large organisms, freezing can be lethal. Here, we’ll review the current state of knowledge about what happens when we freeze cells, the strategies scientists use to help tissues and organs survive the freezing process, and how nature has adapted to cope with freeze/thaw cycles.
When working in a lab, you should be as clear as possible with the person you’re communicating with, whether it’s the undergraduate student you’re mentoring or the editors of the journal you wish to publish in. Unfortunately, performing experiments alone on a day-to-day basis isn’t the greatest way to improve your communication skills. Here are several ways we, as scientists, can refine them:
Whether you enjoy watching films, listening to music, or painting in your spare time, art plays a major part of our everyday lives. Films today are seen by hundreds of millions of people worldwide—let’s be honest, who hasn’t seen Avengers: Endgame?—and are generally critiqued on their artistic merits, whether the reviewer is a trained critic or not. However, the connection between art and its influence on science (and vice versa) isn’t always as apparent. What’s certain is that art shares many similarities to the scientific method, with lessons that can help scientists as they make new discoveries and try to place them in a broader context.
When working in a lab, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by excessive workloads. Clinical labs are regularly inundated with patient specimens, while biomedical research often requires large-scale experiments involving hundreds to thousands of samples, with multiple steps per assay. Here are some tips to help you cope with high-volume assignments as well as the stress that can come with them.
Just a couple years ago, I was a research associate working at McGill University in the Meakins-Christie Laboratories, studying a rare disease called lymphangioleiomyomatosis, or LAM. LAM is a progressive, cystic disease afflicting young women with noncancerous lung tumors that can destroy lung function, making the disease potentially fatal. My job was to understand where these tumors came from and what made them propagate throughout the lungs. There was one unfortunate caveat: no one had been able to grow LAM tumor cells outside of the body. As anyone who has ever worked with cancer biology can attest to, there are a multitude of immortalized cancer cell lines, grown from the cells of a patient’s tumor, that can be studied to perform pre-clinical translational research. And yet, not a single representative cell line was available for LAM. Thankfully, my supervisor set me up with just the right project to help solve this puzzle, which centered around induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs).
When you hear 3D printing, what do you think of? Perhaps you imagine creating inanimate objects like chairs, wrenches, or toys out of construction materials (e.g. plastic, ceramic, or metal). The uses of additive printing have evolved way past that and now serve an important role in medicine and research.
The main purpose of any vaccine is to stop the spread of communicable diseases from one person to another and, where possible, to abolish the disease outright from the general population. There are many commercially available vaccines for a variety of viral and bacterial diseases, including diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, measles, polio, tuberculosis, hepatitis, human papillomavirus, and influenza. To develop these and other vaccines, three things are required: research to find an antigen (usually a protein produced by the pathogen) that produces a protective immune response against the disease, a platform in which to produce the vaccine, and clinical testing.
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