Got a Question? Maybe We Have the Answer in a Webinar

webinars2Have you checked out a Promega webinar lately? Our free webinars cover key topics in cell biology, genomics, genetic identity and proteomics, and are designed with you in mind. Webinar content can range from basic concepts and technical information, such as these webinars on isolating  DNA from plant species and working with FFPE samples to more specialized topics including information on the evolving scene in biologics assays and mass spectrometry analysis. We even give you information about topics like changing manufacturing standards .

Promega scientists present the concepts and offer guidance to aid your research. The live webinars include a question and answer session, staffed by our technical services scientists and often the webinar speaker, and each is recorded allowing you to view the webinar at your convenience.

To register for a webinar, use the “registration” link at www.promega.com/webinars This allows you to not only view the webinar, but also to participate in the live chat. Need a reminder? You can also sign-up for monthly invitations to webinars at the webinars page (see link above). Register for an upcoming webinar or view the archive, you never know what you might learn.

 

Summer Friday Fun Blog—Whisper, Your Houseplants are Listening

arth_1vThis week we travel to the University of Missouri in the Midwestern United States to learn about plants and hearing. Many of us have conducted experiments with phototropism (plants moving toward light)–every time we rotate a plant to get more uniform growth. But did you know that plants can recognize and respond to the sound of a predatory caterpillar munching on a leaf? In response to the very specific vibrations of the predators, the chemical defense systems of the plants are tiggered. Here’s a video from Science 360 describing the experiments. Enjoy.

A Celebration of Life XX—Wild Weather!

Summer Science Vacation

Summer Science Vacation

The African American Ethnic Academy and the BioPharmaceutical Technology Center Institute (BTC Institute), both 501(c)(3) non-profit educational organizations, have collaborated for twenty years in offering A Celebration of Life, a summer science program for upper elementary and middle school students. The program is open to all area students, with tuition reimbursement and transportation provided for those who need that assistance.

With supporting grants from the Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium, an educational arm of NASA, two summer science camps are offered this year – one for upper elementary and one for middle schools students. We just completed the first session, full mornings for two weeks for students entering 3rd–5th grade and have launched the second one, same format, for middle school students this week.

Needless to say, the theme of Wild Weather! lends itself to a wide array of hands-on, exploratory activities.  Here are a few of our favorites that you may wish to try out with the kids in your life. Continue reading

If We Could But Peek Inside the Cell …Quantifying, Characterizing and Visualizing Protein:Protein  Interactions

14231183 WB MS Protein Interactions Hero Image 600x214Robert Hooke first coined the term “cell” after observing  plant cell walls through a light microscope—little empty chambers, fixed in time and space. However,  cells are anything but fixed.

Cells are dynamic: continually responding to a shifting context of time, environment, and signals from within and without. Interactions between the macromolecules within cells, including proteins, are ever changing—with complexes forming, breaking up, and reforming in new ways. These interactions provide a temporal and special framework for the work of the cell, controlling gene expression, protein production, growth, cell division and cell death.

Visualizing and measuring these fluid interactions at the level of the cell without perturbing them is the goal of every cell biologist.

A recent article by Thomas Machleidt et al. published in ACS Chemical Biology, describes a new technology that brings us closer to being able to realize that goal. Continue reading

Summer Friday Fun Blog: A Trip to the Cook Islands in the South Pacific

cook islandsThis week we travel to the Cook Islands to learn about the plight of the Giant Clam, work of marine science volunteers at the Aitutaki Marine Research Centre to re-establish their population, and a really cool use for Hula-Hoops. Enjoy the trip! (Video courtesy of Science360).

Wellness at Work: Pedal to Petal Summer Bike Event and Other Initiatives

Corporate wellness programs have been discussed in the media over the past few years, and as I read more about them this week, I discovered that the tangible benefits of such programs are vast, ranging from blood pressure and cholesterol management, to stress reduction and mental wellness. I also came across articles claiming wellness initiatives don’t encourage healthy behavior beyond the requirements, or can be an invasion of privacy when employees are required to submit to comprehensive health screenings. Do corporate wellness programs really work? In my experience, they are indispensable. Wellness programs can serve as motivational starting points for employees interested in leading healthier lifestyles and are thus a very positive component of a company’s culture. In my case, the programs offered at Promega greatly facilitated my personal efforts to become more active and mindful.

Bike PicAs many Wisconsinites can attest, staying active in Wisconsin during the winter months can be incredibly challenging. Even walking from your car to the gym might cause your eyes to water and fingers to go numb from the cold. It is no wonder that when given the chance to snuggle up on a warm couch or to go for a run in the brisk weather this winter, I chose the former. Continue reading

Getting the Most DNA from Your Plasmid Prep

dificult_cloningPlasmid DNA preparation is one of the fundamental techniques of molecular biology research. It goes without saying that you want to maximize your plasmid DNA yield as much as possible. Below are a few tips to help you get the most out of every Plasmid prep.

Increase Your Culture Volume

Most plasmid prep systems can process a range of volumes. For example, the PureYield™ Miniprep System can process 600μl to 3 ml of culture. Note: Exceeding the recommended culture volume can result in decreased yields because the increased biomass can lead to insufficient lysis and lysate clearing problems.

Use Optimized Culture Conditions

Media: We recommend growing cells in 1X Luria-Bertani (LB) medium. The use of rich medium, such as 2X YT, CircleGROW®, Terrific broth, or LB-Miller medium, which contains more NaCl, can significantly increase yields, provided that the biomass is within the acceptable range.

Culture incubation times: Low-density bacterial cultures yield relatively low amounts of DNA. Overgrown cultures produce suboptimal yields and excessive chromosomal DNA contamination. Do not use cultures grown longer than 18–20 hours. Continue reading

A Little Mindfulness While Traveling by Bike

Cycling to work. "Urban cycling III". Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Urban_cycling_III.jpg#/media/File:Urban_cycling_III.jpg

Cycling to work. “Urban cycling III”. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

On Fridays this summer we’ve started a travel blog. In addition, Dear Reader, earlier this week you learned about the recent forays of some Promega employees into mindfulness meditation.

I’d like to use a bike to work trip to connect travel and mindfulness. Today was my first bike ride to work for 2015.

This is not an auspicious or noteworthy start, as across the aisle from me sits a man that bikes to work all year. The weather in southern Wisconsin has been great this spring; no good reason for waiting ‘til June 19 to ride. It is just my reality.

This travel covered 12 miles, and took me along busy, pothole filled city streets, where I focused on avoiding the holes, while keeping my two wheels in the bike lane and out of traffic. It’s a bit more focus than I need to drive a car with 4 wheels, an accelerator and brakes. Increasing and decreasing speed requires much more effort on a bike. Continue reading

pH Reactive Dyes for Screening Antibody Internalization

19244302_phabaminebanner_900x246Antibody drug conjugates (ADCs) are a new class of therapeutic drugs that uses antibodies to deliver highly toxic drug molecules specifically to the cancer cells. A key requirement for ADCs is the ability of antibody to bind to the cancer cells followed by internalization and subsequent release of drug inside the cells leading to cell apoptosis.

Traditionally, selection of lead antibody candidates for ADCs was done in a sequential workflow where antibodies were first selected based on their affinity followed by characterization involving antibody internalization and drug conjugation. However, there is evidence that high affinity doesn’t always correlate with good internalization and hence there is a need to screen antibodies for internalization properties in addition to their affinities.

Promega has developed a method that allows antibody to be screened for their internalization properties in a simple, plate-based format. The method uses pH sensor dyes (pHAb dyes), which are not fluorescent at neutral pH but become highly fluorescent at acidic pH. When antibody conjugated with pHAb dye binds to its antigen on the cancer cell membrane they are not fluorescent but upon internalization and trafficking into endosomal and lysosomal vesicles the pH drops and dye becomes fluorescent.

Fluorescence signal, for pHAb dyes conjugated using either amine or thiol chemistry, is minimal at pH>7 and increase significantly as the pH drops to pH 5.0, which is a typical pH in cell endosomal compartment. Moreover, pH response of free pHAb dye is similar to that of conjugated dye indicating that conjugation chemistry doesn’t influence the pH response of the dye.

Due to the high signal-to-background ratios of the dyes, plate-based internalization assays can be performed, enabling screening of large libraries of antibodies for their internalization properties, hopefully leading to improved identification of lead candidates for ADC applications.

ProMindful

35988076_lMindfulness is all over the news these days, with people touting research-backed benefits like stress reduction, better grades, improved emotional regulation and even boosting you towards your weight loss goals. Here at Promega we have offered yoga classes and meditation sessions for years, and we just finished an 8 week internally developed mindfulness training program.

The approach was to present mindfulness techniques in a “profoundly lighthearted” way. As participants, we were encouraged to be our own test subjects and experiment. In the 30-minute Friday group sessions we learned about a new aspect of mindfulness through teachings, stories and practice and were then encouraged to practice throughout the week. The results were nothing less than life-changing for some participants. Here are a few techniques you can experiment with incorporating into your life.
Continue reading