Keeping It Cool: Protecting Cryopreserved Biological Samples from Degradation

As discussed on the Inside Biobanking blog, cryopreservation requires a slow cooling process to reach temperatures at or near the temperature of liquid nitrogen (−196°C). This method is standard practice in preserving biological samples. In their recent review, Woods et al. (2016) examined cryobiology applications in cryopreservation to identify new solutions to integrate into mainstream cell therapy.1

Topic: Biobanking and Biorepository, Topic: Labora..........

Some Steps Toward Fit-For-Purpose, Future-Proof Specimens

We spill a good bit of virtual ink in our blogs and eBooks discussing biospecimen integrity, but the emerging term that is being used more and more often, is “fit–for-purpose.” Identifying a sample as fit-for-purpose implies molecular integrity, but goes beyond this to encompass all the variables that make a biological sample useful for research. Sample integrity focuses on the quality of individual samples, while the term fit-for-purpose can be interpreted as addressing entire collections.

Topic: Biobanking and Biorepository, Topic: Labora..........

Flawed Study Design—the Other “Pre-Analytical Variable” in Biomarker Research

Why are we failing to find biomarkers for early detection of disease?  Throughout our blog we write a great deal about biospecimen integrity and emphasize the control of pre-analytical variability in biospecimens. However, the highest quality biospecimens are wasted in the search for biomarkers if the study design is flawed. And the literature on biomarker discovery studies is filled with examples of poor study design, creating an overabundance of false positives that cannot be validated.

Topic: Biobanking and Biorepository, Topic: Labora..........

Gut Bacteria Rivals Immunotherapies in Cancer Treatment

The human gut contains more than 100 trillion bacteria from perhaps 500 or more different species. In fact, gut bacteria outnumber the cells in the human body. The vast number of these bacteria has caused researchers to take a closer look at how they are related to health and disease. Now, breaking scientific research suggests that gut bacteria may be more important than anyone previously realized: they appear to be effective cancer treatments.

Topic: Laboratory Processing, Topic: Cell Therapy ..........

The Link Between Epigenetics and CRISPR-Cas9

When it was first released in 2012, the CRISPR-Cas system stunned scientists with its potential for revolutionizing biological research. Researchers initially noticed that bacterial genomes often contain “clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats,” now dubbed CRISPR sequences. When scientists provide the Cas enzyme with a guide RNA sequence, they can tell it precisely where to slice the DNA. This allows unprecedented control over DNA slicing and insertion of new genetic code.

Topic: Laboratory Processing, Topic: Cell Therapy ..........

The Microbiome of the Skin and Beyond: The MoBE

Our skin is not only our largest organ, and the surface through which we experience the world, it is also a complex ecosystem in its own right. Grice et al (2008)1 estimated that more than a million micro-organisms of more than a hundred distinct species reside on a square centimeter of skin. The recent research into the microbiome of the skin shows that we have not only a great diversity of microorganisms in our skin microbiome, but also a high degree of variation from individual to individual. And although research into the interactions between the skin microbiome and dermal and other disorders is fairly new, it has become clear that the more diverse the microbiome, the healthier the skin.

Topic: Biobanking and Biorepository, Topic: Labora..........

Personalized Medicine and Validation of Next-Generation Sequencing

Personalized medicine and next-generation sequencing (NGS) are two trends producing major swings in the healthcare industry. As previously discussed on Doe & Ingalls blog, here are some points you should be familiar with if your strategy touches upon either of these.

Topic: Qualification / Validation, Topic: Laborato..........

The Evolution of Public Health Research: Sir Austin Bradford Hill and the Cigarette-Rolling Machine

In 1923, a general practitioner in rural Virginia received a phone call from a friend, a surgeon at a hospital in Richmond. A middle-aged man with an uncommon form of cancer had been admitted to the hospital - would he like to come and see the patient, the friend asked. It was a rare opportunity to examine and diagnose an unusual illness first-hand. The country doctor was happy to visit the hospital and further his education, especially since he'd doubted seeing more than one or two similar patients over the rest of his career.

Topic: Biobanking and Biorepository, Topic: Labora..........

Harvesting Cell-Free DNA Represents a New Frontier in Public Health

The traditional wisdom passed down in biology textbooks is that DNA is neatly packaged in chromosomes within the cell nucleus, serving as a template for protein synthesis or cell replication. However, scientists have known for nearly half a century that DNA is also present outside of cells. Researchers have developed several public health applications for cell-free DNA. Unfortunately, these have previously been limited by cumbersome laboratory methods. In this blog, we’ll explore cell-free DNA and the impact that harvesting can have on public health research.

Topic: Laboratory Processing, Topic: Public Health..........

[Webinar] The Seven Keys to Safeguarding Your Cryopreserved Cells

Safeguarding your samples throughout the entire cryopreservation process can be tricky and even unproductive, thanks to protocols that unknowingly undermine your results. Understanding the seven keys to protect your cryopreserved cells – from selecting the right storage temperatures and proper cooling methods to avoiding common safety hazards when using liquid nitrogen – can equip any lab with the knowledge necessary to ensure sample safety and optimal cryopreservation results.

Thermo Fisher Scientific's on-demand webinar, The Seven Keys to Safeguarding Your Cryopreserved Cells, explores the many variables involved in planning for cryopreservation in your cell culture process. Let's explore these steps and unlock the critical information to ensure high cell viability. 

Topic: Laboratory Processing, Content: Webinar, To..........

CRISPR-Cas9 is Revolutionizing Gene Editing

CRISPR-Cas is a gene editing technology that is revolutionizing the biotech industry. In 2012, two researchers were performing basic research when they inadvertently discovered a gene editing technology that forever changes how scientists edit genes.

Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer A. Doudna were trying to gain a better understanding of the system that bacteria use to defend themselves against viruses. The researchers noticed that bacterial systems could slice out specific sections of DNA with incredible precision. The team then realized that, with the correct programming, the system could also replace a specific section with new DNA – in essence, the bacteria were performing gene editing on their own DNA in a better way than scientists were doing it in the laboratories.

Topic: Laboratory Processing, Topic: Cell Therapy ..........

Avoiding Hemolysis in Blood Sample Collection and Processing

Depending on your point of view, red blood cells, or erythrocytes, are throwaways and a nuisance, ruining a good blood specimen if the cells burst and contaminate the sample. On the other hand, erythrocytes have significant value in specific types of research, and if your objective is biobanking these cells in an intact state, then hemolysis and the need for a re-draw is equally as much to be avoided.

Erythrocyte cell membranes rupture easily, releasing hemoglobin and flooding the sample with potassium and other internal components. Fortunately, breakage of erythrocytes is easy to detect, as the hemoglobin turns the serum or plasma sample from pink to red, depending on the number of cells that have lysed.

Hemolysis is a primary driver of the need for re-draw, resulting in wasted time and resources. How can hemolysis be prevented?

Topic: Biobanking and Biorepository, Topic: Labora..........