Art and Science of Laboratory Medicine

Art and Science of Laboratory Medicine

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Plasma proteins

Plasma proteins- Chemistry, functions and clinical significance

Plasma proteins, also termed serum proteins or blood proteins, are proteins present in blood plasma. They serve many different functions, including transport of lipids, hormones, vitamins and metals in the circulatory system and the regulation of acellular activity and functioning of the immune system. Other blood proteins act as enzymes, complement components, protease inhibitors or kinin precursors.

Serum albumin accounts for 55% of blood proteins, and is a major contributor to maintaining the osmotic pressure of plasma to assist in the transport of lipids and steroid hormones. Globulins make up 38% of blood proteins and transport ions, hormones, and lipids assisting in immune function. Fibrinogen comprises 7% of blood proteins; conversion of fibrinogen to insoluble fibrin is essential for blood clotting. The remainder of the plasma proteins (1%) are regulatory proteins, such as enzymes, proenzymes, and hormones. All blood proteins are synthesized in liver except for the gamma globulins.

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Plasma proteins

Source: Slideshare

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

J. cool strain

New strain of J. cool bacillus is found.

Image credits:

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Blood Draw Technology

What I want and what I really have...

Image credits: Aries Albores

History of Lab Safety

Those were the days - Have you done this?

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Lab Safety Rules

Isatin - Possible stress marker in blood

A research collaboration between the universities of Oslo and Aarhus has resulted in the development of a new method with diagnostic potential. The new method that combines phase extraction with an enzymatic reaction may eventually be used for an improved and faster screening analysis of isatin as a potential indicator of stress and neurological disorders.

Isatin is a small organic molecule found in low concentrations in different tissues and is excreted with the urine via the blood stream. Isatin is supposedly a degradation product from the neurotransmitters, e.g. dopamine and serotonine. The level of isatin is elevated in patients suffering from stress and in patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease. The level of isatin is also elevated among pregnant women.

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Method for determining possible stress marker in blood samples

 Source: Aarhus University

Monday, May 11, 2015

Virus Classification

Since their initial discovery of viruses in 1898, about 5,000 viruses have been described in detail, although there are millions of different types.

These non-cellular human pests typically contain one of two types of genomes, made up of either short strands of DNA or RNA. Shortly after a virus enters a cell, it is usually the synthetic machinery of the host cell that allows the virus to create specialized elements called capsid that allow their genome to transferred to other cells efficiently.

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Viruses » Pathogen Profile Dictionary

Source: Pathogen Profile Dictionary

Manual Cell Counting

A history lesson

Since blood cells are counted per unit volume (per liter), it is vital that the volume of blood, in which the cells are counted, corresponds to a known quantity. This makes the Neubauer counting chamber a useful method.

The counting grid is composed of 9 big squares, measuring 1 x 1 mm . From these squares, the central square contains 25 medium sized squares each measuring 0.2 x 0.2 mm. These are further divided into 16 small squares each measuring 0.05 x 0.05 mm. The large central square is also called the erythrocyte grid. The squares highlighted in red correspond to 80 small squares, that are used to establish the erythrocyte and platelet counts. The large squares marked in blue are used to establish the leukocyte count.

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Manual Cell Counting (by microscope)

 Source: HemoSurf

Microbiology Colony Count App

Colony Count Tool App to your smartphone.

 Let this app do it for you! It will count colonies,save and export your data into an Excel spreadsheet(.xls). Also, you can view all your saved work on your mobile device.

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Colony Count App

Source: Google play

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Loving Cells

I love you with every eosinophil in my body <3

Image credits: Deborah Wright

Happy Mother’s Day

Mother´s Day 10 May, 2015

"Mom you gave me something dad never could"

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Mitochondrial inheritance
Mother´s Day Internationally

Source: Gemini Tendencies And An Overactive Imagination

Lab Style from 1970´s

Hematology team and blood cell counter.

Source: Facebook via ASCLS

Good Laboratory Pipetting Guide

There are two types of pipettes: air displacement and positive displacement pipettes. Air displacement pipettes are meant for general use with aqueous solutions. Positive displacement pipettes are used for highly viscous and volatile liquids. Both pipette types have a piston that moves in a cylinder or capillary. In air displacement pipettes, a certain  volume of air remains between the piston and the liquid. In positive displacement pipetting, the piston is in direct contact with the liquid.

Open the guide here:

Source: Thermo Fisher
Image credits: Wytamma Wirth

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Best practices in phlebotomy - WHO Guidelines on Drawing Blood

Best practices in phlebotomy covers all the steps recommended for safe phlebotomy and reiterates the accepted principles for blood drawing and blood collection. The chapter includes background information, practical guidance and illustrations relevant to best practices in phlebotomy.

The information given in this section underpins that given in the remainder of Part II for specific situations. Document also provides information relevant to the procedure for drawing blood given below in Section 2.2, but focuses on blood collection from donors. Institutions
can use these guidelines to establish standard operating procedures.

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Best practices in phlebotomy - WHO Guidelines on Drawing Blood

Source: NCBI

Microbiology Teaching

The anaerobic ones are just sitting there, but the aerobic bacteria are doing jumping jacks, sit-ups, leg lifts..

Point of Care Flow Cytometry

Biological and medical scientists have been using flow cytometry to count cancer cells for the past 40 years. But the large instruments are expensive and can only be operated by trained personnel. By contrast the PoCyton cytometer developed by Fraunhofer researchers is cheap to produce, no bigger than a shoebox, and automated.

Existing flow cytometers are capable of measuring the quantity of tumor cells circulating in the bloodstream but they often cost up to 300,000 euros and take up a huge amount of space – equivalent to two washing machines. Moreover, each test cycle lasts several hours. All in all, such techniques are too expensive and time-consuming for everyday clinical practice. A further downside of these cytometers is that they can only be operated by trained specialists and require daily recalibration. An alternative is the PoCyton device developed by researchers at the micro-engineering branch of the Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology in Mainz (IMM). As Dr. Michael Baßler, research scientist at ICT-IMM, explains: “Our flow cytometer enables such tests to be carried out around twenty times faster. Their cost is also lower by several magnitudes, which takes us into a new dimension that makes these devices much more affordable for clinical applications.” Another advantage of the new flow cytometer is the use of miniaturized components that have reduced its size to that of a shoebox. Measurements are carried out automatically, and no calibration is necessary.

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Automated counting of tumor cells in blood

 Source: Fraunhofer

Researchers reverse bacterial resistance to antibiotics

The rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria is a growing problem in the United States and the world. New findings by researchers in evolutionary biology and mathematics could help doctors better address the problem in a clinical setting.

Biologist Miriam Barlow of the University of California, Merced, and mathematician Kristina Crona of American University tested and found a way to return bacteria to a pre-resistant state. In research, they show how to rewind the evolution of bacteria and verify treatment options for a family of 15 antibiotics used to fight common infections, including penicillin. Their work could have major implications for doctors attempting to keep patient infections at bay using "antibiotic cycling," in which a handful of different antibiotics are used on a rotating basis.

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Researchers reverse bacterial resistance to antibiotics

Source: EurekAlert! Science News

Reticulocyte count

Absolute reticulocyte count is a percentage, not a count. It’s just the straight-up percentage of red cells that are reticulocytes (normal is about 0.5 – 2.0%). That’s useful as it is. However, it doesn’t reflect that fact that as the hemoglobin drops, you should have more reticulocytes, percentage-wise (in other words, at a hemoglobin of 50 g/L, you should have a much higher percentage of reticulocytes than you should at a hemoglobin of 100 g/L). To take this into account, you can do a corrected retic count.

Corrected reticulocyte count is reticulocyte % x (Hgb/15). This formula “corrects” for hemoglobin – meaning that it will show you if the patient is making enough reticulocytes for the degree of anemia present. As the hemoglobin drops, you need to make more reticulocytes to get up to the normal range of 0.5 – 2.0%.

Read more:
Absolute vs. corrected reticulocyte count

 Source: Pathology Student

Friday, May 8, 2015

Activated protein C

The homeostatic blood protease, activated protein C (APC), can function as an antithrombotic on the basis of inactivation of clotting factors Va and VIIIa; a cytoprotective on the basis of endothelial barrier stabilization and anti-inflammatory and antiapoptotic actions; and a regenerative on the basis of stimulation of neurogenesis, angiogenesis, and wound healing. Pharmacologic therapies using recombinant human and murine APCs indicate that APC provides effective acute or chronic therapies for a strikingly diverse range of preclinical injury models. APC reduces the damage caused by the following: ischemia/reperfusion in brain, heart, and kidney; pulmonary, kidney, and gastrointestinal inflammation; sepsis; Ebola virus; diabetes; and total lethal body radiation. For these beneficial effects, APC alters cell signaling networks and gene expression profiles by activating protease-activated receptors 1 and 3. APC’s activation of these G protein–coupled receptors differs completely from thrombin’s activation mechanism due to biased signaling via either G proteins or β-arrestin-2. To reduce APC-associated bleeding risk, APC variants were engineered to lack >90% anticoagulant activity but retain normal cell signaling. Such a neuroprotective variant, 3K3A-APC (Lys191-193Ala), has advanced to clinical trials for ischemic stroke. A rich data set of preclinical knowledge provides a solid foundation for potential translation of APC variants to future novel therapies.

Read more:
Activated protein C: biased for translation

 Read more: Blood Journal

Smartphone microscope automates detection of parasites in blood

A research team led by UC Berkeley engineers has developed a new smartphone microscope that uses video to automatically detect and quantify infection by parasitic worms in a drop of blood. This next generation of UC Berkeley’s CellScope technology could help revive efforts to eradicate debilitating filarial diseases in Africa by providing critical information to health providers in the field.

“We previously showed that mobile phones can be used for microscopy, but this is the first device that combines the imaging technology with hardware and software automation to create a complete diagnostic solution,” said Daniel Fletcher, an associate chair and professor of bioengineering, whose UC Berkeley lab pioneered the CellScope. “The video CellScope provides accurate, fast results that enable health workers to make potentially life-saving treatment decisions in the field.”

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Smartphone microscope automates detection of parasites in blood 

Source: University of California

Remembering Mumps

The mumps virus belongs to the family of paramyxoviruses. It has a single-strand, nonsegmented, negative-sense RNA genome and is spread by the respiratory route. Following a 12–25-day incubation period, infection frequently causes the classic symptom of mumps: painfully swollen parotid salivary glands (parotitis). Some complications of infection include hearing loss, orchitis, oophoritis, mastitis, and pancreatitis. Mumps may also result in aseptic meningitis and, infrequently, encephalitis (5%–10% and <0.5% of unvaccinated cases, respectively). Importantly it has been estimated that as many as 30% of infections in unvaccinated individuals may be asymptomatic.

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Remembering Mumps

 Source: PLOS

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Sixth DNA base discovered?

DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) is the main component of our genetic material. It is formed by combining four parts: A, C, G and T (adenine, cytosine, guanine and thymine), called bases of DNA combine in thousands of possible sequences to provide the genetic variability that enables the wealth of aspects and functions of living beings.

Two more bases: the Methyl- cytosine and Methyl-adenine. In the early 80s, to these four "classic" bases of DNA was added a fifth: the methyl-cytosine (mC) derived from cytosine. And it was in the late 90's when mC was recognized as the main cause of epigenetic mechanisms: it is able to switch genes on or off depending on the physiological needs of each tissue. In recent years, interest in this fifth DNA base has increased by showing that alterations in the methyl-cytosine contribute to the development of many human diseases, including cancer.

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¿Discovered the sixth DNA's base?

 Source: IDIBELL

Monday, May 4, 2015

Sunday, May 3, 2015

The Evolution of Antimicrobial Resistance

The story of bacterial resistanse.
Coccus meets plsmid, coccus eats plasmid, someting happans and the super-coccus is borne.

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Cell meets plasmid

Source: Devianart by Velica

Laboratory routines

Putting the open date on ousehold foods?

Only Science

Amazing pipette tattoo.

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“No Gods, Only Science”. P-10 pipette by Neal Warren Chambers

Source: Tattoo Pins

Vintage test tube rack from 1950´s

This incredible rack is must for laboratory scientists.
16 glass test tubes sit in wire holders. All attached to a round base with metal circles.

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VINTAGE TEST TUBE Vase-Industrial by absenceofcolor

Source: Etsy via absenceofcolor

A New Spin On The Old Gram Stain

After more than 130 years, scientists may finally have figured out how a common laboratory method for identifying bacteria works. Invented by Hans Christian Gram in 1884 and thus known as the gram stain, the test differentiates bacteria based on the properties of their membranes. Researchers have long thought that the dye used in the gram stain, crystal violet, infiltrates the innermost confines of bacterial cells. But a new study shows that this is not the case.

Dai’s team measured the light-scattering behavior of crystal violet in Escherichia coli, which is gram-negative. After adding crystal violet to the bacteria, the researchers observed a sharp spike in signal as the dye aligned with the outer membrane, and then a dip as the molecules passed into the space between the membranes, where they have greater freedom to move. They saw a second rise in signal that corresponded to crystal violet’s alignment along the inner membrane. But instead of declining a second time as expected, the signal leveled off, suggesting that the dye did not cross the inner membrane. When the researchers repeated the experiment with a similar dye, malachite green, that is known to cross the bacteria’s inner membrane, they observed a second decline in the light-scattering signal, demarcating its entry into the cytoplasm. Overall, the results suggest that crystal violet doesn’t infiltrate the deepest recesses of bacterial cells. Instead it distinguishes gram-negative bacteria from gram-positive ones based on how well the dye sticks to the peptidoglycans.

Read more:
A New Spin On The Old Gram Stain

Source: Chemical & Engineering News

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Cells of the human immunen system

An immune response is generally divided into innate and adaptive immunity. Innate immunity occurs immediately, when circulating innate cells recognize a problem. Adaptive immunity occurs later, as it relies on the coordination and expansion of specific adaptive immune cells. Immune memory follows the adaptive response, when mature adaptive cells, highly specific to the original pathogen, are retained for later use.

Granulocytes include basophils, eosinophils, and neutrophils. Basophils and eosinophils are important for host defense against parasites. They also are involved in allergic reactions. Neutrophils, the most numerous innate immune cell, patrol for problems by circulating in the bloodstream. They can phagocytose, or ingest, bacteria, degrading them inside special compartments called vesicles.

Read more:
Immune Cells

Source: National institute of allergy and infectious diseases

Penicillium claviforme on a petri plate

This is a very interesting species that is different than most Penicillium species. The asexual structures come together and form a huge (by fungal standards) match-stick like structure on which spores are borne. Shown here is a look at what these match-sticks look like on a Petri plate.

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Penicillium claviforme

Source: Flickr
Image credits: xerantheum

Friday, May 1, 2015

Rapid Tests for Fungal Infections

Fungal infections prey on weak immune systems, making them widely known as opportunistic infections. People may be born with a weak immune system, have an illness that attacks the immune system such as HIV/AIDS or be on a medication that lowers the body's ability to fight infections.The demand for fast, easy-to-use and sensitive diagnostic tests for fungal infections is on the rise. Labs desperately need accelerated detection solutions to isolate and identify fungi quickly.

Read more: 
Rapid Tests for Fungal Infections

 Source: Advance

Neoplastic plasma cells mimic mature neutrophils in plasma cell myeloma

A 48-year-old man with a history of diabetes was found to have an elevated serum immunoglobulin G (IgG) level (8.6 g/dL) during a routine blood workup. Further laboratory study and bone marrow biopsy confirmed IgG-κ type plasma cell myeloma. The patient underwent therapy with bortezomib, carfilzomib, and dexamethasone. One year later, he was referred to our hospital for evaluation of stem cell transplant.

On smears, cells are medium- to large-sized, with deeply basophilic cytoplasm, occasional cytoplasmic vacuoles, vague perinuclear hof, and folded or lobulated nuclei. A monocyte with gray to light-blue cytoplasm was included for comparison (image).

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Neoplastic plasma cells mimic mature neutrophils in plasma cell myeloma

Source: Blood Journal

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