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Keep up with our informative and entertaining GemBlog!

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Human Serum Albumin

When I was in grad school, I gave a seminar on my research and suggested that it could someday help people suffering from various neurological disorders. After all, I just made an incredible, once in a lifetime discovery! Right? No. I generated yet another variation of transplant experiments that would meet an insurmountable roadblock to the clinic once the fateful questions that floored me are asked: “What real value does this research have in the transplant world for humans?

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Cryopreservation: Cells for the long-haul

When I was a kid, I saw a movie about a caveman that met his end by being unceremoniously frozen, found by an anthropologist some 11000 years later, and thawed in a lab. Naturally, he came back to life and lived in some sort of biosphere. True story (my recollection of the movie, not the reanimated Cro-Magnon). The premise was that you can freeze a body, which is apparently little more than a collection of cells, thaw it, and have the cells survive, and teach said bucket of cells Neil Young tunes (I’m serious. I saw this movie on HBO in the eighties).

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Antibiotics as Selection Agents

We all know why pen-strep is in our cultures. But when you landed your first lab gig as a student, did you really know why your PI had upwards of 15 antibiotics in the freezer? I didn’t.  True, most of us are pretty familiar with the use of antibiotics as selection agents, but some people still ask how it works.  Well, fasten your seatbelt! I’m fixin’ to shed some knowledge and it’s coming your way! No Holiday Inn Express needed!

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Antibiotics: A world beyond moldy fruit

Streptomycin, ampicillin, kanamycin, neomycin, gentimicin, et al…Antibiotics. There are a ton of them out there, and it all started with Alexander Fleming’s seminal discovery that his bacterial cultures wouldn’t grow around the mold that was contaminating his dishes (Thank goodness he kept a slovenly lab, eh?). Actually, what he saw was that this mold was destroying the bacteria surrounding it. After some investigation, he discovered that the mold, a member of the Penicillium genus secretes a substance he originally referred to as “mould juice” and was toxic to Staphylococcus.

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Amphotericin: Use and Applications

I never really had a reason to use the phrase ”The Fungus Among us.” Until Now.  That’s because I’m going to share my thoughts on amphotericin (Yes, I have thoughts on amphotericin!).  Most of us know this fungicide by one trade name or another (insert yours here) and I’m willing to bet that if you’ve been doing cell culture for any extended time, you’ve either used it or talked about it. That’s because there is, indeed, fungus among us. Everywhere … and in some places, it is much more prevalent than others.

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Serum: FBS, BCS, Human, Horse… What am I supposed to use?

Good day scientist! I trust your cells are doing well and that you are here because your stellar technique affords you a free minute for the guilty pleasure of reading my blog…

Deep breaths, deep breaths… OK, now that you’ve regained your composure, I’ll tell you that today’s topic, serum, is not going to be a tutorial in the sense that I’ll give you all the gory details on how it’s procured. Instead, I thought it might be a good idea to actually discuss which serum to use for various applications.  You know, this stuff isn’t just for your cell culture!

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GemBlog: Chicken Embryo Extract (CEE)

Oddly enough, I have been looking forward to writing about chicken embryo extract. Sounds like I need to get out more often, but the truth is I knew I’d be learning more about something I know relatively little about, and as a scientist who needs to satisfy his curiosity this fit the bill. So….I did me some Googlin` for this one! Here’s what I learned:

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SFIM vs. Grace’s and other media

So last week we learned about the utility of insect cell lines in today’s modern research laboratory. This week, we’ll learn a bit about the medium they grow in. Naturally, we’ll learn what Gemini has for your insect cell culture needs!

We’ll start off with SFIM 60 medium. This serum-free medium is well-suited for Sf9 cultures using baculovirus to generate recombinant proteins. Of note, though this may be optimized for Sf9 cells, those experimentalists at Gemini also figured out that this medium is also very good for other cell types such as Sf21 and TN368 cells.

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Insect cells: Not just for entomology enthusiasts

Researchers have been using insect cells in the lab for decades. Back in 1962, Dr. Grace successfully grew and maintained cells from female moth ovaries. At first glance, it would seem that Grace made a breakthrough in what could be an exciting new emerging field; moth ovary research! But seriously, this was indeed a breakthrough in cell culture, though it would take a while for researchers (even Grace) to actually realize it.

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Insulin, transferrin and selenium.

Many labs take advantage of a medium supplement that is both necessary for healthy cell cultures, and saves time and effort.  This cocktail consist of insulin, transferrin, and selenium, or as most of us know it, ITS (pronounced I-T-S). We already spoke about insulin so now we’ll talk about the other two: Transferrin and selenium.

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Recombinant insulin

I can spend days talking about recombinant DNA technology. It has fast become one of the most used tools in biomedical research and promises to be useful for a good long time. Most of us can’t think of too many people who DON’T utilize this tool in one way or another. But, I will keep this light and focused on today’s topic: Recombinant insulin.

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GemBlog – Insulin: Pig? Bovine? Human? What am I supposed to be using?

Insulin is a peptide hormone. Specifically, it is a 51 amino acid peptide with a molecular weight of 5.8 kDa. Together with other hormones, it regulates our body’s metabolism and is essential for regulating fat and carbohydrate (sugar) metabolism. It is made by the pancreas and removes the glucose from the blood stream by storing it in our muscle, liver, and fat cells as glycogen. Basically, it allows our cells to take up glucose and store it for future use, keeping our blood free from excess sugars. 

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iPSC’s
The newest tool in the regenerative medicine box.

The new kid on the stem cell block has a lot of people talking. It has been touted as the next best thing in regenerative medicine (rightfully so). What’s the deal? Well, for starters, they don’t start off as stem cells at all. These Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells start off as a fully mature adult cell types, such as skin fibroblasts. They are then transfected with the genes known to maintain the pluripotent state in embryonic stem (ES) cells. This, in effect, pushes the cells to re-discover and maintain the qualities of ES cells.

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They call it “LIF.” Why not “PIF?”

I made up a protein: Pluripotency Inducing Factor” so I can have a catchy title.  OK, maybe not a TOTALLY made up protein, but as far as I can tell, no one calls one specific protein by that name. Also, “PPF (pluripotency Promoting Factor) doesn’t rhyme with LIF. But on a slightly more serious note, LIF is so ubiquitous in mouse ES cell labs that one may wonder if it has ever served any other purpose under a  cell culture hood.

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Embryonic Stem Cells: Great Tools Require the Right Maintenance

I’ve spent many hours preaching to students, colleagues, and even perfect strangers  (at least the ones that stuck around long enough to listen) about having the right tools for the right job. Perhaps I should have spent a little more time on the importance of maintaining one’s tools so they do what they’re supposed to do….And what better place to do this than a blog about embryonic stem (ES) cells?

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Gemini Launches recombinant LIF (and a Blogger is Born).

Hi everyone, I’m Dr. J, Gemini’s Scientific blogger-type guy.   With my first (and thus far most impressive) blog, I wanted to introduce myself before I move on to our newest product…one that ought to grab the attention of  the stem cell biologists out there: Leukemia Inhibitor Factor, or LIF.