Art and Science of Laboratory Medicine

Art and Science of Laboratory Medicine

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Double Cheese Burger

Worried about your cholesterol level?

Read more:
What Your Cholesterol Levels Mean

Source: American Heart Association

Eosinophil Cookies

Perfect cookies for the lab scientists

Read more:
White blood cell cookies! Eosinophils and Neutrophils

Source: Amateur polymath

Autoantibodies predict type 1 diabetes in young children

New research shows that it is possible to predict the development of type 1 diabetes. By measuring the presence of autoantibodies in the blood, it is possible to detect whether the immune system has begun to break down the body’s own insulin cells.

Antibodies are part of the body’s immune system and the presence of antibodies in the blood is a sign that the immune system has reacted to an intruder such as a virus or a bacteria. Sometimes, the immune system mutinies and attacks the body. Autoantibodies are a sign of an autoimmune disease and form markers indicating that an attack is underway, for example on the body’s own insulin cells.

Read more:
Early signs in young children predict type 1 diabetes

Source: Lund University

How Noroviruses Infect the Intestine

Human noroviruses (HuNoVs) cause a majority of gastroenteritis outbreaks across the globe and are the leading cause of severe childhood diarrhea and foodborne disease outbreaks in the United States. In impoverished countries, they are estimated to cause over one million clinic visits and 200,000 deaths in young children annually. However, the mechanisms used by noroviruses (NoVs) to infect the intestinal tract and cause disease are not well understood, primarily due to the paucity of cell culture and animal model systems. Recent major advances in developing such models now leave the field poised to tackle these critical questions. The goal of this opinion article is to propose a working model of early steps involved in intestinal infection by NoVs. In this model, NoVs bind carbohydrates on the surface of specific members of the intestinal microbiota and/or enterocytes and are then transcytosed across the intestinal epithelial barrier to gain access to their target immune cells.

Read more:
A Working Model of How Noroviruses Infect the Intestine

 Source: PLOS Pathogens

Bact Cats

Cute cats are playing with bacterial morphology

Friday, February 27, 2015


Apple iBlood eHealth

Your Immune System Is Made, Not Born

In one of the most comprehensive analyses of immune function performed to date, researchers analyzed blood samples from 105 sets of healthy twins. They measured immune cell populations and their chemical messengers—204 parameters in all—before and after participants received a flu shot. Differences in three fourths of these parameters depended less on genetics than on environmental factors, such as diet and prior infections. Genetics had almost no effect on how well individuals responded to the flu vaccine, judged by antibodies produced against the injected material. And among identical twin siblings, who have the same genome, immune system features differed more strikingly within older twin pairs than in younger sets. The findings, published January 15 in Cell, argue that life habits and experiences shape our body’s defenses more than the DNA passed down from our parents.

 Read more:
Your Immune System Is Made, Not Born

Source: Scientific America

Study Successfully Screens for Diabetes at Dental Visits Using Oral Blood

A new study published in the American Journal of Public Health, confirms that using gingival crevicular blood (GCB) for hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) testing produced values that were nearly identical to those obtained using finger stick blood (FSB), with a correlation of .991 between the two blood samples of 408 dental patients. Testing HbA1c is promoted by the American Diabetes Association (ADA) for diabetes diagnostic purposes and glycemic control monitoring.

Read more:
NYU Study Successfully Screens for Diabetes at Dental Visits Using Oral Blood

Super Microbiologist

Another example of creativity at work

Image credits: Alexandra Gillberg

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

I Love Labwork

Pipette tip heart

Source: Facebook
Image credits: Kriss Reiners-Vangelder

Sauna Use Associated with Reduced Risk of Cardiac Mortality

A sauna may do more than just make you sweat. A new study suggests men who engaged in frequent sauna use had reduced risks of fatal cardiovascular events and all-cause mortality, according to an article published online by JAMA Internal Medicine.

Although some studies have found sauna bathing to be associated with better cardiovascular and circulatory function, the association between regular sauna bathing and risk of sudden cardiac death (SCD) and fatal cardiovascular diseases (CVD) is not known.

Jari A. Laukkanen, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio, and coauthors investigated the association between sauna bathing and the risk of SCD, fatal coronary heart disease (CHD), fatal CVD and all-cause mortality in a group of 2,315 middle-aged men (42 to 60 years old) from eastern Finland.

Read more:
Sauna Use Associated with Reduced Risk of Cardiac, All-Cause Mortality

Source: Jama

Image: Jenni GÃĪstgivar

Spread of artemisinin-resistant Plasmodium falciparum in Myanmar

Emergence of artemisinin resistance in southeast Asia poses a serious threat to the global control of Plasmodium falciparum malaria. Discovery of the K13 marker has transformed approaches to the monitoring of artemisinin resistance, allowing introduction of molecular surveillance in remote areas through analysis of DNA.

Artemisinin resistance extends across much of Myanmar. We recorded P falciparum parasites carrying K13-propeller mutations at high prevalence next to the northwestern border with India. Appropriate therapeutic regimens should be tested urgently and implemented comprehensively if spread of artemisinin resistance to other regions is to be avoided.

Read more.
Spread of artemisinin-resistant Plasmodium falciparum in Myanmar: a cross-sectional survey of the K13 molecular marker

Source: The Lancet

Monday, February 23, 2015

Cape Town Espresso Lab

Espresso Lab is a micro-roaster, which means they roast small batches of beans within their own facility.

"In many ways watching him make our coffee was like watching a chemist create some new life changing mixture. This was coffee on a whole new level, it was floral, complex and completely enjoyable."

Read more:
Cape Town Espresso Lab in Old Biscuit Mill

Source: The Freah Exchange

Sunday, February 22, 2015

A wild day in the lab

Pipette tip remover accurasy contest

15-Minute Ebola Test Approved by WHO

The World Health Organization approved the first quick test for Ebola Friday 20 February, 2015. The test gives results in about 15 minutes, instead of hours. So people infected can get treatment and be quarantined more quickly.

The standard test used now requires a special laboratory. Getting samples to and from those labs is a huge challenge. During the epidemic, samples were often transported on canoes and motorbikes or carried by hand for miles through the jungle. The new test, called ReEBOV Antigen Rapid Test, requires much less equipment. It's simply a piece of paper and a test tube. And it doesn't need electricity.

Read more:
15-Minute Ebola Test Approved For Fighting The Epidemic

Source: NPR

Monday morning in the lab

Sleeping on duty

Source: Twitter via Eric Gould

Order of Draw

When using a winged blood collection setfor venipuncture and a coagulation (citrate) tube is the first specimen tube to be drawn, a discard tube should be drawn first. The discard tube must be used to fillthe blood collection set tubing’s “dead space” with blood but the discard tube does not need to be completely filled. This important step will ensure proper blood- to-additive ratio. The discard tube should be a nonadditive orcoagulation tube

Laboratory Survival Guide

Download poster here

Read more: UTMB

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Lab Science Bracelets

The Vexed Muddler is specialized in unique ceramic fashion jewellery inspired by science,
with a focus on biology, anatomy and microbiology.

Read more:
Handmade ceramic science jewellery 

Source:Etsy / The Vexed Muddler

Phlebotomist´s Day Dream

"Veins", anatomic tattoo


The duration of Plasmodium falciparum infections

Plasmodium vivax and Plasmodium ovale are often considered the malaria parasites best adapted to long-term survival in the human host because of their latent exo-erythrocytic forms. The prevailing opinion until the middle of the last century was that the maximum duration of Plasmodium falciparum infections was less than two years. Case reports and series investigating blood donors following accidental malaria infection of blood transfusion recipients and other sporadic malaria cases in non-endemic countries have shown clearly that asymptomatic P. falciparum infections may persist for up to a decade or longer (maximum confirmed 13 years). Current policies in malaria-free countries of excluding blood donors who have lived in malarious areas are justified. Vigilance for longer than three years after declaring elimination in an area may be needed.

Read more:
The duration of Plasmodium falciparum infections

 Source: Malaria Journal

Friday, February 20, 2015

The Rh blood group system

The Rh blood group system is one of the most polymorphic and immunogenic systems known in humans. In the past decade, intense investigation has yielded considerable knowledge of the molecular background of this system. The genes encoding 2 distinct Rh proteins that carry C or c together with either E or e antigens, and the D antigen, have been cloned, and the molecular bases of many of the antigens and of the phenotypes have been determined. A related protein, the Rh glycoprotein is essential for assembly of the Rh protein complex in the erythrocyte membrane and for expression of Rh antigens. The purpose of this review is to provide an overview of several aspects of the Rh blood group system, including the confusing terminology, progress in molecular understanding, and how this developing knowledge can be used in the clinical setting. Extensive documentation is provided to enable the interested reader to obtain further information.

The Rh blood group system was first described 60 years ago. A woman had a severe transfusion reaction when she was transfused with blood from her husband following delivery of a stillborn child with erythroblastosis fetalis. Her serum agglutinated red blood cells (RBCs) from her husband and from 80% of Caucasian ABO-compatible donors. The following year, Landsteiner and Wiener found that sera from rabbits (and later guinea pigs) immunized with RBCs from Macaca mulatta (Macacus rhesus in the original paper) agglutinated 85% of human RBC samples. Initially, it was thought that the animal and human antibodies identified a common factor, Rh, on the surface of rhesus and human RBCs. It was soon realized that this was not the case. Therefore, the original terms (Rh factor and anti-Rh) coined by Landsteiner and Wiener, although being misnomers, have continued in common usage. The heteroantibody was renamed anti-LW (after Landsteiner and Wiener), and the human alloantibody was renamed anti-D.

The Rh blood group system is the most polymorphic of the human blood groups, consisting of at least 45 independent antigens and, next to ABO, is the most clinically significant in transfusion medicine. The ability to clone complementary DNA (cDNA) and sequence genes encoding the Rh proteins has led to an understanding of the molecular bases associated with some of the Rh antigens. Serologic detection of polymorphic blood group antigens and of phenotypes provides a valuable source of appropriate blood samples for study at the molecular level. This review summarizes our present understanding of the complexities of Rh blood group expression and how this knowledge impacts on clinical situations that arise through Rh blood group incompatibility.

Read more:
The Rh blood group system: a review

 Source: Blood Journal

Sequential Screening Provides Better Test Performance than Cell Free DNA

In a study to be presented on Feb. 5 2015 in an oral plenary session at 8 a.m. PST, at the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine’s annual meeting, The Pregnancy Meeting™, in San Diego, researchers will report that cell free DNA analysis is less effective than sequential screening as primary testing for fetal chromosomal abnormalities.

The study, titled Cell free DNA Analysis vs. Sequential Screening as Primary Testing Considering Chromosomal Abnormalities, compared sequential screening to cell free DNA for detection of all fetal chromosomal abnormalities in a general prenatal cohort.

The study discusses some of the complexities of cell free DNA screening when implemented in large populations. Although cell free DNA can very precisely detect Down syndrome and a few other serious chromosome abnormalities (as well as fetal sex), there are two limitations that are important. One is that cell free DNA screens for a very limited panel of abnormalities, as compared to current screening, which is able to determine that there is an increase in risk in the presence of a very broad array of fetal abnormalities, including many different chromosome problems in addition to the common conditions.

Read more: Study Finds Sequential Screening Provides Better Test Performance than Cell Free DNA When Considering all Fetal Chromosomal Abnormalities

Source: Illumina

The Future of Clinical Mass Spectrometry

As a mass spectrometrist who has migrated into the realm of clinical chemistry, I frequently tell my clinical chemistry colleagues that mass spectrometrists want to take over the world. Although an exaggeration, this statement is seldom challenged, probably in recognition of the many positive ways that mass spectrometry already has influenced the clinical laboratory and the practice of medicine, with the number of new applications growing rapidly. But before looking to the future of clinical mass spectrometry, it is useful first to consider briefly the historical context of mass spectrometry in the clinical lab.

 Read more:
The Future of Clinical Mass Spectrometry 

Source: AACC

CRE Outbreak Has Killed Two at UCLA Medical Center

This week, doctors at the University of California Los Angeles Medical Center discovered that a contaminated medical tool had been spreading antibiotic-resistant bacteria to patients. The bacteria, known as carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae or CRE, has been called a “nightmare” bacteria by the Centers for Disease Control and can kill as many as half the people it infects. So far, two people have died from the infection, and UCLA has reached out to another 179 people that might be infected. When already in the throes of an outbreak, what should a hospital do to stop it?

Read more:
Superbug Outbreak Has Killed Two at UCLA Medical Center

Source; Popular Science

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Mobile Hematology Atlas

The anticipated iPhone Hematology Atlas is now available free of charge. Similar to the iPad atlas, the iPhone hematology atlas provides the same content while being optimized for the iPhone user. We hope you enjoy this new resource. Outlines is a comprehensive full-featured medical education application available for both iPad and iPhone.

The Hematology Atlas allows multiple interactive options (e.g. rapid side-by-side comparisons of the individual entities, etc.), encompasses the normal and abnormal hematologic entities and displays them all through a very user-friendly environment. It depicts the individual cell types (e.g. RBCs and precursors, granulocytes and precursors, lymphocytes and precursors, etc.) in a visually stimulating style and allows the user to review the morphology, clinical relevance and look-a-likes in a very efficient manner. Multiple 3D diagrams and charts are also incorporated to enhance the user experience. 

Download here:
Hematology Outlines on the App Store on iTunes 

or visit the web atlas:

Source: Hematology outlines

Infant intravenous access

'Needles' are often the most feared painful procedure in children. Always justify the need for the procedure and combine with blood sampling if needed. Explain the procedure to the child and parents and obtain verbal consent.

Read more:
Clinical Practice Guidelines : Intravenous access - Peripheral

Source: The Royal Children´s Hospital Melbourne

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Hematopoiesis from Pluripotent Stem Cell

Great chart from Biolegend pathway database.

Open large image here:
Hematopoiesis from Pluripotent Stem Cell

 Source: Biolegen

This spice set brings a bit of the laboratory into your kitchen

ThinkGeek´s  new Chemist’s Spice Rack is awesome.  It would look great in any kitchen of an scientist. You’ll also get a set of 54 spice labels that look like cells on the Periodic Table of the Elements; the Erlenmeyers are pre-labeled.

Read more: 
'This spice set brings a bit of the laboratory into your kitchen

Source: The Gadgeteer

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Laboratory Necklace

Show your inner geek with this miniature test tube necklace. All lined up and ready to use, these little test tubes are waiting in a wooden rack.

There is a choice of 'open end up', with the glass tubes secured in place with the open ends upwards, or 'open end down', with the glass tubes secured in place with the open ends down, as they would be stored in the laboratory.

Read more:
Just Chemistry Necklace Science Geek Test Tube

Source Etsy by

Neisseria Meningitidis

The most common N. meningitis strain in the United States is serotype B, followed by C. Strains A, B, C, W135, X and Y have all been associated with epidemics with varying geographical distribution. From 1998 to 2007, serotype B was the most common strain in the U.S. with a median infection age of 12. This serotype was also the most common for much of the time between 2008 and 2013 and was the most common serotype isolated from infections involving the college-age population. While infection rates have declined over the past 15 years, the mortality rate has remained around 11 percent for all cases. Fortunately, a few approved vaccines have been around for a while that provide immunity for most serotypes of N. meningitidis, thus keeping the mortality rate lower than it probably would have been.

Read more:
Neisseria Meningitidis

Source: Advance

Monday, February 16, 2015

Angry Birds Glucose Meter for Kids

When CEO of Modz, Vesa Kemppainen scanned the blood glucose meter market, all he saw was a sea of grey. "All the products and the tech [for these meters] looked grey and unappealing," and "People who had these devices were embarrassed to show anyone else."

So Kemppainen and his team at the Finland based health technology company took action. After talking with children and healthcare specialists, they came up with Modz -- the world's first motivational, Angry Birds themed blood glucose meter, which launches 9 February, 2015 in the UK and Europe.

Read more:
Modz diabetes self-care device gives kids back their freedom

Anatomical Sand Sculpture

“Life,” by Benjamin Probanza of Acapulco, Mexico, took 2nd place in a sand sculpting contest in Treasure Island, Florida.

Read more:
Anatomical Sand Sculpture

Source: Anatomic US

Staphylococcus time

Bacterial watch

Source: Facebook via Medical Microbiologist

Sunday, February 15, 2015

LabGear - Medical Lab Tests App to iPhone

LabGear is the most advanced pocket tool for Medical Laboratory tests with peer reviewed content for all health care professionals - students, physicians, nurses and is now with iCloud sync.

Read more:
LabGear - Medical Lab Tests Reference & More on the App Store on iTunes

Source: iTunes

How People Try to Beat Drug Testing

Illicit drug abuse remains a serious public health issue. According to the 2013 National Survey on Drug Abuse and Health, an estimated 24.6 million Americans age 12 years and older were current illicit drug users—9.4% of the U.S. population. Marijuana was the most commonly abused illicit drug, followed by cocaine, heroin, and hallucinogens.

USA federal guidelines define an adulterated specimen as a urine specimen containing either a substance that is not a normal constituent or an endogenous substance at a concentration that is not a normal physiological concentration. Pre-employment screening programs typically do not involve direct supervision of specimen collection, so employment candidates may attempt to cheat drug testing by adulterating specimens. This makes it essential for laboratories to identify pre-analytically any such adulterated specimens.

Read more:
How People Try to Beat Drug Testing

Source: AACC

10 Tips to Prevent Pipetting Errors

The following is TTLabs top 10 list of routine steps scientists can take to prevent pipetting errors from taking over. Give some consideration to these steps the next time you’re pipetting:
  1. Clean and check your pipette daily
  2. Service your pipette every six months
  3. Know proper pipetting techniques
  4. Use the appropriate pipette
  5. Account for environmental conditions
  6. Let your pipette adjust to the environment
  7. Keep your pipette safe
  8. Take a break
  9. Use a new tip every time
  10. Practice, practice, practice

Read more:
10 Ways to Prevent Pipetting Errors 

Source: Accuracy Matters Blog
Image: A lab tech in 1943 pipetting plasma samples / British Ministry of Information Second World War Official Collection

Lymphocytes Variation

 Lymphocyte morphology chart
  • A: Normal small, mature lymphocyte.
  • B: Small “plasmacytoid” lymphocyte: this cell has increased amounts of darker blue cytoplasm than normal.
  • C: Another variant of a “plasmacytoid” lymphocyte. The adjacent neutrophil indicates the lymphocyte is small.
  • D: Another variant of a “plasmacytoid” lymphocyte with more abundant cytoplasm and a perinuclear clear zone.
  • E: A large reactive lymphocyte. This cell has cytoplasmic vacuoles,
    medium blue cytoplasm, but a coarse chromatin with no nucleoli.
  • F: A larger “plasmacytoid” lymphocyte.
  • G: Large reactive lymphocyte with a pleomorphic nucleus and smooth dark blue cytoplasm.
  • H: Large reactive lymphocyte with “bi-lobed” nucleus.
  • I: Large reactive lymphocyte with pleomorphic nucleus, deep blue cytoplasm and cytoplasmic vacuoles.
  • J: Another variant of a large reactive lymphocyte with a pleomorphic nucleus.

Read more:
Lymphocytes Variation 

Source: Medical Laboratories

A Guide to Bacterial Identification

A presentaton of bacterial identification

Learning objectives:
  • Describe the five key steps to identifying bacterial isolates
  • Describe the key microscopic and cultural characteristics of bacteria that can be used in identification
  • Select and describe basic phenotypic tests for the identification of bacteria
  • Interpret preliminary bacterial identification profiles
  • Select methods for definitive identification
  • Identify limitations and pitfalls of both commercial and manual identification methods
  • Apply trouble-shooting principles to facilitate difficult identifications

Open presentation:
A Guide to Bacterial Identification

Source: RCPA, Marion Yuen

Biomedical Love Story

Only lab scientists can make something like this...

Source: Facebook via Lab Humor
Image credits: Jennifer Beene-Walsh

Congress of the Croatian society of medical biochemistry and laboratory medicine

The 8th Congress of the Croatian Society of Medical Biochemistry and Laboratory Medicine with International Participation will take place from 22 to 26 September 2015 in Rijeka.

The Congress will be structured in nine symposiums, three plenary meetings, industrial workshops, a poster presentation and an exhibition. You will be able to get an overview of various relevant developments in the area of laboratory medicine during the last three years. The abstracts of the presentations and posters will be published in the Society's journal "Biochemia Medica". Besides this rich official part of the Congress, we have prepared attractive and interesting program of social events. You may find important information and updated versions of both official and social program on our website and follow all our activities and announcements before and during the Congress on Facebook and Twitter

Read more from the web site:
8th Congress of the Croatian society of medical biochemistry
and laboratory medicine

Facebook: 8. hdmblm kongres
Twitter: @congressRijeka2015

 Source: HDMBLM

Saturday, February 14, 2015


Like bacteria, our friendship grows every day

Source: Facebook via Medical Microbiologist

Vintage ECG registration

Very accurate registration

Be My Antigen

Happy Valentine´s Day Scientists

Valentine´s Day Blood Cell Challenge

Case: 26 years old female from Paris finds herself staring regularly. She is feeling high and she has difficulties to concentrate her work. Heart rate is slightly elevated and she is smiling without any particular reason. She has also lost her appetite.

Peripheral blood smear was taken and the findings are in the image. Can you identify this leukocyte  and what coud be the diagnosis?

Correct answer will be found from your heart.

Happy Valentie´s Day!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Should patients receive blood results via mobile phone?

In 2011, I became the 11th person in the world to undergo an intestinal transplant which took place at the Churchill hospital in Oxford. I knew a key post-operative requirement would be the constant monitoring of my condition. What I didn’t appreciate was the time and effort it would take. On the third anniversary of my surgery I was diagnosed with high-grade B cell lymphoma.

Like so many I constantly use my mobile phone and technology as part of my everyday life. I want to manage my health journey in the same way. Why can’t I receive blood results via text or use Skype calls for routine follow-ups?

The truth is, I can. Information governance is no excuse, and privacy and security challenges can be overcome. The technology is also not to blame, and some companies are already helping NHS organisations to safely and securely unlock the value of their information with models that can be integrated within their IT systems.

Read more:
Why can’t patients receive blood results via text or use Skype for appointments?

Happy Valentine´s Day

Peas are red and MacKonkeys are pink! Boy these anaerobes they do stink!

 Source: Facebook via Jen Overlin

Hematology Cookies

Awesome blood cell cookies

To My Sweet Lab Valentine

Happy Valentine´s Day Scientists!

Image credits: Flickr via Uka Vonderland

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Barbie Goes Lab

From science to professional sports to creative arts, these focused females make anything possible!
The scientist is ready to achieve her career dreams. And with the right tools to get the job done she'll perfect her profession and showcase her superb skills.

Read more:
BARBIE® Careers Scientist

 Source: Mattel

How to Set Koehler Illumination

Koehler illumination is a microscope technique that provides superior control over the light rays during brightfield microscopy by aligning and focusing the microscope, ensuring the best resolution and contrast, as well as a bright, evenly illuminated background for your images. Koehler illumination is critical for the following advanced contrasting techniques: Phase contrast, Varel contrast, Hoffman Modulation, PlasDIC and DIC. Prior to setting up and aligning the advanced contrasting components, the microscope's Koehler illumination must be aligned.

Open the instructions:
Koehler Illumination

Source: Spot Imaging Solutions

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