The Making of a Promega Product: Teamwork = Success for the Maxwell RSC® ccfDNA Plasma Kit

Ever think about the kinds of challenges R&D scientists run up against in the course of developing a new product? The development of the Maxwell® RSC ccfDNA (circulating cell-free DNA) Plasma Kit is a particularly interesting example. Its path to commercialization was characterized by a number of unexpected technical hurdles, yet each was overcome through creative troubleshooting and aided by valuable collaborations across departments. All had a hand in finally launching the kit last August.

26062525-ccfDNA_Mar25-blog-DNAThe product’s launch was an exciting milestone for Promega as research interest in the role of ccfDNA as biomarkers in human disease continues to grow. Elevated levels of ccfDNA have now been reported in patients with cancer, inflammatory disease, infections and cardiovascular disease. In pregnant women, up to 10% of ccfDNA can be attributed to the fetus, so critical fetal DNA analysis can now be conducted through maternal blood samples. There are many advantages in the ability to isolate and analyze ccfDNA, so the development of a kit with high throughput capability was a priority for the Nucleic Acid Purification R&D team. Continue reading “The Making of a Promega Product: Teamwork = Success for the Maxwell RSC® ccfDNA Plasma Kit”

A Walk Around the Promega Campus: Honoring Some of the Greats of Science

Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci

The Promega campus in Madison, Wisconsin has been fortunate to welcome several new buildings in recent years. While some of the older buildings are fondly known by their acronyms – BTC for BioPharmaceutical Technology Center and RDC for Research & Development Center – other names are more descriptive. Notice a particular theme to these buildings’ names: Faraday, Franklin, da Vinci, Feynman, Kepler? Legendary scientists all, with visionary minds, they serve to inspire and remind us of the possibilities that Promega employees can achieve.

Given the impressive pool of Nobel Prize recipients, inventors and innovators to consider as namesakes of Promega buildings, why were these particular individuals chosen? And, who exactly were they? Continue reading “A Walk Around the Promega Campus: Honoring Some of the Greats of Science”

Worldwide Holiday Celebrations as Told by Promega Employees: Part II

Again, Happy Holidays from Promega employees around the world! We hope you enjoyed the first part of this special holiday blog in which several Promega branch employees shared their country’s holiday traditions. In part II we continue with yet more global traditions and cheer.

Germany
Christian Walczuch, Public Relations for Promega GMBH

In preparation for Weihnachten (Christmas), many families celebrate Advent. This is a time of religious preparation for the 24th, Heiligabend (holy evening or Christmas Eve). Traditional advent activities include the Adventskranz (Advent wreath), which is set up on the 4th Sunday before Christmas Day, or the beginning of the season. Four candles adorn the wreath, and a new one is lit each week. Children also enjoy the advent calendar which contains twenty-four doors (one for each day of December leading up to Christmas). Children open one door each day and find a chocolate treat awaiting them. Many of the calendars also include pictures inside the doors, often Christmas-related.

As in Benelux and Switzerland, a significant part of the Christmas build-up occurs on 6 December, or Nikolaustag, a day commemorating Saint Nicholas. On the evening of 5 December children in Germany place a Nikolausstiefel (a boot or a shoe) in front of the street door. Overnight, the Nikolaus, a figure similar in appearance to Santa Claus in the USA, visits the house and fills the boots with sweets and sometimes even smaller presents if the children were good; otherwise they are left with only a rute (a cane composed of birch twigs).

Christkindlesmarkt_nuernbergDuring the Christmas period, the Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas market)  becomes a feature of almost every city in the German-speaking countries, town or village, where visitors enjoy stalls, entertainment, and savour food and Glühwein (mulled wine). Famous Christmastime treats include Lebkuchen (gingerbread), Stollen (fruit cake), and Marzipan (confectionery often made into sweets).

The most important day of the season is the 24th where the celebration begins in the afternoon or evening and gifts are exchanged after dinner. One of the most common traditions is for the children to wait to enter into their (locked) living room until a little bell rings. This bell marks the departure of the one delivering gifts, and then the children are free to open them.

  Continue reading “Worldwide Holiday Celebrations as Told by Promega Employees: Part II”

Happy Holidays from Worldwide Promega

Happy Holidays from Promega employees around the world! This holiday season we are excited to share with you the kinds of celebrations we enjoy in the many countries that comprise the Promega family. We hope you feel more connected by reading about the festive customs, foods, symbols and events celebrated in countries that may be far from your own home. Here they are, in the words of our marketing and technical services colleagues.

Please note this is Part I of a two-part blog post. Please look for Part II to be posted on December 25, and have a wonderful holiday!

Italy
Maura Bozzalli, Marketing Manager

Christmas is very important in Italy, not only because we are the country with the Pope, but also, as in the rest of the world, it is a day dedicated to the family and the children. The celebration starts with dinner on Christmas Eve and goes on with the lunch on Christmas Day with gift exchanges as well.

But Christmas is not a real Christmas without a Panettone on the table. Panettone is a special sweet/dessert, not a cake, not a bread, and not anything else – it is Panettone! It has a rounded and very tall cylinder shape (20 cm), and originally it was from the Milan area but now it has spread out all over the country. As is typical of our country, each region has created its own version of the original recipe and of course claims that it is the best one! pannetone

Panettone takes more than two days of work to be done because it requires a long time for rising (10-12 hours) twice. Another typical note about its preparation – after cooking in the oven it is removed with a long fork and placed upside down for at least 5-10 hours until cold to prevent the humidity inside the Panettone from causing it to collapse. That is why it is saved for very special occasions like Christmas, and after so much work and time it is a pleasure to share it with the people you love. Today, not many people make it themselves at home;  instead Panettone is bought in shops but the taste and the tradition is still very lively.

Here all the ingredients needed to make a real Panettone: water, flour, salt, eggs and egg yolk, milk, butter, sugar, candied fruit (orange and citron), raisins, vanilla, and yeast. The official recipe is in Italian, but this tutorial can help you make a Panettone if you want to try for your own very special 2015 Christmas.

Continue reading “Happy Holidays from Worldwide Promega”

The Promise of miRNAs as Therapeutic Agents in Treating Disease

When researchers first identified a new family of seemingly non-functional “junk” RNA molecules, it’s unlikely they could have predicted the power and promise of these nucleic acids. The small, non-coding, single-stranded RNAs – typically 21-25 base pairs in length – were first discovered over 20 years ago in C. elegans, yet they were quickly found to be ubiquitous in species from worms to flies to plants to mammals. The role of these novel RNAs in the regulation of developmental pathways in worms, coupled with their prevalence, inspired researchers to better understand their significance.

We now know that miRNAs (for microRNAs) serve as post-transcriptional repressors of gene expression by targeting degradation of mRNA or interfering with mRNA translation. While small, each can have a big effect; a single miRNA can regulate dozens to hundreds of distinct target genes. They’ve been implicated in a variety of critical cellular processes such as differentiation, development, metabolism, signal transduction, apoptosis and proliferation.

Tissue-specific expression patterns revealed that specific miRNAs are enriched in mammalian tissues including adult brain, lung, spleen, liver, kidney and heart.  More compelling was the identification of abnormal miRNA expression in tumorigenic cell lines. It’s no wonder that this growing family quickly became ripe for exploration in disease development.

Basic research on miRNA is making its way into the clinic.
Research on miRNA is making its way into the clinic.

Within only a few years, a rapidly expanding body of research supported the theory that miRNA expression may indeed play a role in the development of human diseases including cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, cystic fibrosis, and liver disease. Investigations into the expression of miRNAs in cardiovascular disease, in particular, have demonstrated not only their value as disease markers, but also how their dysregulation is linked to disease processes.

More recently a new possibility is being explored: can miRNA be manipulated to interfere with disease progression? Continue reading “The Promise of miRNAs as Therapeutic Agents in Treating Disease”