Today’s blog is written by Malynn Utzinger, Director of Integrative Practices, and Tim Weitzel, ESI Architect.
Last month in this series, we posed to you that the most important decision you’ll ever make is the one about how to respond to the circumstances of your life – the story you tell yourself when the rough patches of life show up. Because of our brains’ wiring, we tend to spin self-defensive and blaming stories as a first line of defense until we learn to pause, check in with ourselves, and cultivate a narrative of more generative possibilities. This month, we promised you a next-level story that shows the outer impact that happened when one person changed his self-talk.
There is still a lot we don’t know about COVID-19 and the virus, SARS-CoV-2, that caused the pandemic and changed the way we live. But there are two things we do know about the disease: 1) Patients with diabetes and high blood glucose levels are more likely to develop severe COVID-19 symptoms with higher mortality. 2) Patients that experience an uncontrolled inflammatory response, called the cytokine storm, also develop more severe COVID-19 symptoms. The fact that both high glucose levels and an exaggerated immune response drive severe disease suggests that the two may be linked. But how? The answer may lie in the metabolism of immune cells in the lungs of COVID-19 patients, according to a recent study published in Cell Metabolism.
What animal can be found around the globe that outnumbers humans three to one? Gallus gallus domesticus, the humble chicken. The human appetite for eggs and lean meat drive demand for this feathered bird, resulting in a poultry population of over 20 billion.
Controversy over the origin of the domestic chicken (when, where and which species) have lead some researchers to look for that information in the genomes of contemporary chicken breeds and wild jungle fowl, the candidates from which chickens were derived. By sequencing over 600 genomes from Asian domestic poultry as well as 160 genomes from all four wild jungle fowl species and the five red jungle fowl subspecies, Wang et al. wanted to understand and identify the relationships and relatedness among these species and derive where domesticated chickens first arose.
As the SARS‐CoV‐2 pandemic continues to rage across the United States and around the globe, the demand for COVID‐19 testing is increasing. The vast majority of the COVID-19 assays use RT‐qPCR to detect the viral RNA in patient samples such as nasopharyngeal swabs, which are collected and stored in viral or universal transport media (VTM/UTM). The general workflow for these COVID‐19 assays can be broken down as follows:
Collect and store patient samples
Ship samples to testing laboratory
Extract RNA from samples
Amplify and analyze samples
While many companies who manufacture the products that are used in these steps have been able to adapt and significantly increase their production capacities, there are still gaps between the supply of these products and the global test demand. Both the sample collection and storage step and the RNA extraction/purification step have a tendency to bottleneck and experience supply constraints. One way to address these bottlenecks and expand production capacity for these in‐demand products is to evaluate the viability of skipping a step in the workflow, without hindering the ability to detect viral RNA from samples.
Today’s post is written by guest blogger, Elizabeth Smith, PhD, Field Client Support Specialist at Promega
As a person of color (POC), I would like to share my story to raise awareness on how important diversity programs are in my community and how they helped to shape my career. My hope is that it will inspire the younger generation and provide insight into a different perspective. Growing up, I always felt like there was something great out there for me to achieve. As a young child, never did I imagine that I would have what it takes to obtain a PhD. This was not on my radar as a young student, and not something that I thought would ever be in my future. I did not see people that looked like me reflected in this space, so I never considered it early on.
I knew that I wanted to go to college with a science focus, but I did not really explore what life would look like or should look like after that. What I was sure of was being involved in science in some way. Whenever, someone asked my younger self, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” My answer would always be, “A Scientist!” All throughout elementary and high school, I focused on science related courses and did very well. This enabled me to apply for and receive a full undergraduate scholarship.
At this level of my education, I felt like I had to prove to everyone, and even myself, that I belonged here. That I was deserving of this scholarship and placement at the university. That I was good enough to receive a bachelors.
In older people, low muscle mass is strongly associated with reduced functional capacity and an increased risk of disability. Myostatin is a negative regulator of muscle growth and has become an important target for pharmaceutical companies designing therapeutics to address age-associated muscle loss.
Anti-myostatin drugs increase muscle size and strength in preclinical studies. Fortetropin is a proteo-lipid complex made from fertilized egg yolk and shows anti-myostatin activity. When Fortetropin is provided as a supplement, lowered circulating myostatin levels are observed both in rodents and in young men. Fortetropin in combination with resistance exercise also lowers myostatin and increased lean body mass.
This post was written by guest blogger, Nitin Kapoor, from our Promega India branch office.
The COVID-19 crisis has led to substantial worldwide efforts to develop drug treatments and vaccines effective against SARS-CoV-2. Termed a novel Coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2 belongs to the same family as that of SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome) viruses that were responsible for epidemics in 2003 and 2012 respectively (Lu et al. 2020)
India reported more coronavirus infections than any other country in the world during July 2020. Records topped 50,000 new cases each day.
Recognizing the need for a fast development of assays to detect SARS-CoV-2 and identify exposed individuals and to support research into better understanding the coronavirus, Promega’s branch office in India developed a how to “Battle against Novel Coronavirus” live virtual event that was hosted by its associate partner, Biotecnika. The virtual event featured scientists and business professionals focused on SARS-CoV-2 Detection and Assay Development. Around 9,000 attendees from the scientific community attended the live event and had the unique opportunity to ask Promega scientists questions about the virus, its products, and vaccine development.
Several of the most often asked questions from the event participants are highlighted below:
How is RT-PCR testing different from serological testing for COVID-19?
SARS-CoV-2 is an RNA virus so the first thing we will be able to detect is the presence of SARS-CoV-2 RNA. Testing for antibodies is called serological testing. Such a test can identify who has been infected with the new coronavirus but it cannot necessarily identify an active infection. The antibodies are detected later, after symptoms developed, and are believed to stay on in the blood for at least a few months. Serologiocal tests are used for checking epidemiology, not for diagnosing an active infection.
With all of the COVID-19 cases, there is a need for quick turnaround on tests. How can the Maxwell Instrument help?
The Maxwell® RSC instrument is a compact, automated RNA extraction platform that processes up to 48 samples simultaneously in less than 35 minutes, so in typical 8-hour shift instrument can process up to 400 samples. The Maxwell® RSC 48 Instrument is for research use only.
How can your Lumit™ technology be used to understand immune response to SARS-CoV-2?
Technologies built around the Lumit platform can be used in immunoassays in which NanoBiT® subunits are conjugated to a pair of secondary antibodies. The target analyte can be detected by adding an antibody mix either containing two primary antibodies against the target analyte along with SmBiT- and LgBiT- conjugated secondary antibodies, or by adding SmBiT- and LgBiT- conjugated primary antibodies. Binding of the primary/Lumit™ secondary antibody complexes to their corresponding epitopes brings NanoBiT® subunits into proximity to form an active NanoLuc® luciferase that generates light in proportion to the amount of target protein.
Additionally our NanoLuc® and NanoBiT™ technologies are being used to create reporter viruses used in vaccine and therapeutic research and development (2,3).
What is your opinion about upcoming vaccine?
COVID-19 is one of the biggest global health concerns, with massive economic burden. With no clear remedies to treat the disease, researchers are racing against the clock to trial COVID-19 vaccines. Promega supports scientists, working to understand the molecular mechanisms by which emerging viruses infects and to develop accurate detection methods, therapeutics, and vaccines.
We support scientists working to develop vaccines and to answer questions about viral pathology and treatment, including:
How does the binds to and enters cells?
How does the body respond to the virus?
What treatments can be used to alleviate symptoms?
How can immunity to the virus be gained?
“Promega technologies are used in studies monitoring key steps in viral pathogenesis,” said Rajnish Bharti, Promega India General Manager, “including detecting virus interactions with host cell surface receptors, tracking and monitoring production of viral nucleic acids and proteins within the cell, and monitoring host cell viability and metabolism.”
You can view the online recording of the webinar below:
Lu R. et al. (2020) Genomic characterization, and epidemiology of 2019 novel coronavirus: implications for virus origins and receptor binding. Lancet. 2020; 395:565–574. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(20)30251-8. [PubMed]
Nitin Kapoor, Manager of Marketing Services for Promega Biotech India, Ltd. joined Promega in Oct 2017. Nitin Kapoor has 9 years of expertise in Sales and Marketing in Life Sciences, Pharma/ Biotech, Molecular Diagnostics and Forensic domain. His specialties are Product management , Sales force effectiveness, Market Research, Brand positioning & Competitor analysis. Before joining Promega he has worked with companies like Qiagen , ThermoFisher Scientific & GE Health care. He has completed MBA Biotech Gold Medallist from Amity University Noida . He is also an Author for Book: ‘Issue Related with Marketing of GM Food’ LAP publisher and is co-author for research paper on ‘Marketing of Nanobiogarments’ in IJMRA, Volume 2, Issue 4.
How is your work from home (WFH) exercise routine going? Have you been able to maintain some semblance of a normal exercise routine? Many of us are staying home to avoid potential SARS-CoV-2 infection.
That’s very important. But after six or so months into the pandemic, one starts to consider the impact of not getting more strenuous and varied forms of physical exercise. We frequently think of exercise and it’s effect on muscle tone and heart and lung fitness. But it goes deeper than that. Our bone health is also at risk from lack of exercise.
Bones: Your Newest Tissue It’s no secret that our bones are tough, made of minerals like calcium and phosphorous. They help us keep upright, supporting a considerable amount of weight against the force of gravity. Bone also protects organs.
Until recently, little attention has been paid to how metabolically active bone is. Research is now revealing that bone is not simply mineralized scaffolding surrounding bone marrow. Bone is actually a tissue, with vasculature and cells with cilia and dendrites that reach through the bony scaffolding, signaling to other cells. This cellular network, influenced by hormones and other compounds produces new bone, and sometimes reabsorbs existing bone, depending on individual needs and state of health.
This post was written by guest blogger, Karen Stakun, Brand Manager at Promega Corporation.
When I arrived at the garden that morning, I was completely focused on the clusters of ripe tomatoes I’d hoped to see. I was there to take photographs, and the red, ripe fruit was going to be the star of the show. In every direction, there were long rows of plants: raspberries, peppers, okra, cabbage, fennel and kale. A black pickup truck pulled up to the edge of the Promega garden and a pair of well-worn work boots landed hard on the dewy grass. Mike Daugherty introduced himself as a Master Gardener, Master Composter, and member of the Promega culinary services team.
Mike laid out black plastic crates at the end of each row of the tomato garden. There were 700 bed feet of heirloom slicers and paste tomatoes to be harvested. Seduced by the intense red, orange and yellow of the juicy tomatoes, my thoughts immediately drifted to visions of BLT’s, caprese salad and gazpacho soup. As he hand-carried 3 or 4 tomatoes at a time and laid them in the crates, Mike called my attention to all the other things that were going on around the fruit.