Select Author

Amazing Samples: A Compilation of Stories in Our Cells

Though small, biological samples hold a wealth of information. They are the foundation for the development of new therapies as well as research into the cause of disease.  

Content: eBook, Topic: Amazing Samples

Amazing Samples: Water

Water – the universal solvent. The all known life on our planet requires it to function, not directly because of water itself, as much as its ability to transport other compounds and ions, and facilitate metabolic reactions. That’s why human civilization itself is based on water, both in determining where people settled, as well as whether they live.

Topic: Biobanking and Biorepository, Topic: Amazin..........

Amazing Samples: Buccal Up for Some Cheeky Research

Most researchers know about buccal cells  the easily sloughed-off cells from the inside of the cheek. The collection of these cells is relatively non-invasive, which gives it many of the same advantages as spit and mucus that we’ve already discussed. Because of this, many studies, including some in social science, utilize buccal swabs to increase the amount of data they’re collecting.

However, even if it’s popular, don’t let that diminish its value. From biomarker studies to stem cell research, buccal cells have proven time and time again to be a hugely useful source of biological data. Last time in our Amazing Samples blog series, we scratched the surface of research with skin cells. This time, buccal up and get ready for a cheekier kind of Amazing Sample!

Topic: Biobanking and Biorepository, Topic: Cell T..........

Amazing Samples: Skin

Despite being the largest in the human body it’s easy to forget about skin as an organ, unless your research or practice directly involves it. It’s what we use to interact with the world and present ourselves. No one else, other than doctors, will really start thinking about your spleen or pituitary gland when they look at you. But just as with any other cell type, there is great research being conducted around skin.

Topic: Cell Therapy Solutions, Topic: Amazing Samp..........

Amazing Samples: T-cells

We’ve discussed white blood cells before.

Whether you look at tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes, marrow-derived natural killer (NK) cells, or chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cells, lymphocytes in general have many different therapeutic applications that are currently being researched, especially in the field of oncology. However, these are all the more aggressive parts of the immune system, and even among a subclass as specific as T-cells, there are several other functions that we haven’t touched on.

Last time, on the Amazing Sample blog series, we discussed CNF and neural tissue. This time, let’s break down some of the ways T-cells can be amazing samples in their own right.

Topic: Cell Therapy Solutions, Topic: Amazing Samp..........

Amazing Samples: Neurons and Brain Cells and Fluids - oh my!

Did you know ancient Egyptians used to remove corpses’ brains when mummifying their deceased? I remember being taught at a young age that it was because the civilization did not value the brain as an organ, but it turns out that’s far from the truth. Not only were there many different factors that could affect excerebration, but the ancient Egyptians were the first recorded civilization to study the actual anatomy of the brain, even hypothesizing the communicative function of the spinal cord… But we’re not here to discuss antiquity.

In modern day, we more definitively know that the brain is the seat of both thought and emotion, and have better learned how little we actually know of its functionality. From a macroscopic perspective, we can study how the different areas of the brain and central nervous system respond to any number of stimuli: music, foreign languages, food, even bad dreams. But focusing on a smaller scale can uncover the mystery of how the greater machine works, and how it can even be assisted and improved.

Last time on our Amazing Samples blog series, we took a look at the research being put into eyes. Today, let’s feel out some of the ways neural tissue can be an Amazing Sample.

Topic: Cell Therapy Solutions, Topic: Amazing Samp..........

Amazing Samples: The Window to the Soul

I’m not sure about you, but the only time I really think about what’s in my eyes is when I sit up quickly and end up seeing floaters. Well, that, and any time I think about having crystals at the head of my optic nerves… but the American Academy of Ophthalmology says there’s nothing to worry about too much.

However, just as with any other part of the body, eyes have a wealth of information, and some interesting treatments have come up around them. Last time in our Amazing Samples blog series, we discussed curry the interesting applications of bone marrow research – this time, let’s take a long hard gander at ocular research.

Topic: Biobanking and Biorepository, Topic: Cell T..........

Amazing Samples: Bone Marrow

When I was young, my father tried to teach me to eat everything put on my plate (though it was an uphill battle, since I was quite the finicky child). One of the few “bizarre” foods that I took a liking to, though, was sucking the marrow out of goat, lamb, or beef curries (my father was clearly not a devout Hindu). Even now, it’s one of my favorite parts of such dishes, and I recently added San Diego to my travel wish list if just to eat swordfish marrow (thanks for the tip, Andrew Zimmern).

But that’s clearly not what we’re going to talk about right now. Everyone knows that human bone marrow is rich in stem cells, specifically hematopoietic. In fact, without research on bone marrow, stem cells might not be as well understood, and accordingly we might not have reached the current burgeoning development in the cell therapy field. Last time in our Amazing Samples blog series, we discussed the value of adipose tissue cells. This time, let’s savor the rich history of bone marrow research.

… Man, I should cook some curry.

Topic: Biobanking and Biorepository, Topic: Cell T..........

Amazing Samples: Adipose Tissue

Fat - its popularity depends hugely on context, and varies from person to person. On our own bodies, some cultures stigmatize it while others embrace it. In food, some people think well-marbled ribeyes are the best steak, while others prefer the lean filet mignon (and still others don’t like steak, I guess?). Traditionally, candles and soap has been made of tallow, and some still make it that way (ignoring Fight Club fans), while most people today use some sort of substitute wax or surfactant.

The cells in adipose tissue, however, are not as controversial. In fact, adipocytes are valuable for a number of research applications, from understanding the tissue itself to harnessing the power of stem cells and progenitor cells hidden within the tissue. Last time in our Amazing Samples blog series, we concentrated on the value of progenitor cells. This time, let’s discuss how adipose tissue can be an Amazing Sample.

Topic: Biobanking and Biorepository, Topic: Cell T..........

Amazing Samples: Progenitor Cells

Of all the advances medicine has been making in recent years, regenerative medicine is perhaps the most intriguing. One of the most important cells involved in regenerative medicine is the progenitor cell. These cells are able to differentiate into more functional cells, making our understanding of them and their mechanisms crucial to regenerative medicine and cell therapies.

Last time in our Amazing Samples blog series my colleague, Jaydeb Mukherjee, discussed the research potential of saliva and phlegm. This time, let’s discuss more on how progenitor cells are an Amazing Sample.

Topic: Cell Therapy Solutions, Topic: Amazing Samp..........

Amazing Samples: Spit, Spat, Sputum

The word “phlegm” itself dates back to the ancient Greek humoralist theory of medicine. At the time, it was believed that just as all matter was made up of combinations of the four elements, so were all body parts made up of specific mixes humors: the heart was primarily blood and air, the liver yellow bile (kholé) and fire, the spleen black bile (melaina kholé) and earth, and the brain was phlegm and water. Many health conditions were attributed to an imbalance of the humors, both physiological and psychological, and such words have remained in the English language since, such as cholera (yellow bile) and melancholy (black bile), and sanguine or phlegmatic personalities.

Topic: Biobanking and Biorepository, Topic: Clinic..........

Amazing Samples: Digging Up New Findings on Soil

Longitudinal studies don’t typically have strict guidelines on the types of samples to collect and analyze. In some cases, the collection may be straightforward and include samples like blood, saliva, urine, or hair. Biological samples in general are usually a given if you’re studying the long-term health of the participants.

But the more samples you collect, the more information you can reap, and if you have the processing power and storage capacity for more data, you may choose to expand your collection to a wider variety of sample types. Many studies collect a broad range of external samples for downstream analysis, including things like dust, air, or soil. After all, we aren’t like spherical chickens in a vacuum – humans (or other animals, e.g. golden retrievers) exist in an open system, constantly interacting with legion external stimuli, many of which we barely could imagine existed a mere 100 years ago.

Last time in our Amazing Samples blog series, we discussed some of the fun research on fungi. This time, let’s start showcasing some of these longitudinal wallflowers, starting with soil.

Topic: Biobanking and Biorepository, Topic: Clinic..........