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Whitley i2 Instrument Workstation in use

Whitley Workstations Used in Novel Research Approach to Neurodegenerative Disorders

Efficient energy production is primarily driven by oxygen and is crucial in the brain, which consumes 20% of the body’s total energy whilst weighing only 2% of the total body weight. Loss of oxygen in the brain (hypoxia) can result in brain damage, which can contribute to dementia including Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and can influence amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, commonly known as motor neuron disease) disease mechanisms. Those mechanisms are often poorly understood, however, the cellular consequence of hypoxia including disruptions to energy supply are often observed in the brains of patients with these neurodegenerative disorders. The ability to model a hypoxic environment and study the effects on AD and ALS in the laboratory has historically been limited by the lack of available technology.

The SITraN laboratory takes the gold standard approach for measuring the effect of hypoxia on energy generating pathways in cells by using an XF metabolic bioanalyser (which measures energy generation in a non-invasive manner in cells, Seahorse Bioscience/Agilent), housed within an i2 Instrument Workstation and H35 HEPA Hypoxystation. The i2 chamber has been designed specifically to house and run metabolic flux assays using the XF bioanalyser in a hypoxic environment. The H35 section of the chamber is HEPA filtered and gas, temperature and humidity controlled allowing us to perform cell manipulation on our ALS and AD cell models.

Using this novel combination of technologies – SITraN aims to measure how hypoxia affects the energy generating pathways in brain cells. Their novel approach will allow the identification of the pathways involved in the cell response to hypoxia, which lead to energy disruption in patients with AD and ALS and will allow therapeutic hypoxic markers of disease to be identified for future clinical studies.

Article provided by Dr Scott Allen, Sheffield Institute for Translational Neuroscience (SITraN), University of Sheffield. 

Dr Allen will be presenting at the ALS/MND Symposium in Glasgow held from 7-9 December 2018.

Nottingham iGEM Team Win Gold Medal!

Words and pictures provided by the University of Nottingham:

iGEM Team

The University of Nottingham’s 2018 iGEM team have been awarded a prestigious Gold Medal and were nominated for ‘Best New Composite Part’ at the recent International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) competition in Boston, USA.

It is the first team from Nottingham to win a Gold Medal, which was awarded at the iGEM Jamboree event in Boston on Sunday 28th of October 2018.

iGEM

The iGEM competition began in January 2003 and currently attracts over 400 teams, from more than 45 countries and annually exceeds 5000 global undergraduate and post-graduate student participants. Teams use the principles of synthetic biology, the “Engineering of Biology”, to design biological parts, devices or systems to address a real-world problem or to perform a novel, previously unseen function. The best ‘parts’ of every project are then submitted in the form of a ‘BioBrick’ to the iGEM BioBrick registry for use by others.

University of Nottingham's iGEM team

University of Nottingham’s iGEM team

The Team

Nottingham’s team was composed of ten undergraduate students drawn from the Schools of Life Sciences, Biosciences, Computer Science, Mathematics and Social Sciences. For the duration of their project they were embedded within BBSRC/EPSRC Synthetic Biology Research Centre (SBRC) at Nottingham, under the overall guidance of Nigel P Minton and Philippe Soucaille and under the close supervision of a dedicated multidisciplinary team comprising Louise Dynes, Daphne Groothuis, Dr Christopher Humphreys, Dr Carmen McLeod, Dr Michaella Whittle and Dr Craig Woods.

Clostridium dTox

The team’s innovative synthetic biology project, Clostridium dTox; it’s not so difficile, aimed to develop a novel therapy for the treatment of disease caused by the superbug Clostridium difficile, colloquially known as C Diff.

C Diff infection is the most common cause of antibiotic-associated diarrhoea in the Western World and is a big problem in hospitals and healthcare-facilities. The disease symptoms are caused by the release of two major toxins, TcdA and TcdB by the bacterium. Under normal circumstances, a healthy gut microbiota prevents the proliferation of C Diff. However, when these good bacteria are obliterated by the use of broad-spectrum antibiotics, C. difficile proliferates and causes disease. One way to counter the expansion in numbers of toxin producing C Diff is to use competing strains that are not producing toxin as a probiotic.

The project’s aim was to engineer a C. difficile bacteriophage to produce factors that would suppress toxin production. The strategy adopted was to repress expression of both toxin genes (tcdA and tcdB) by targeting their mRNA using either antisense RNA (asRNA) or CRISPR interference (CRISPRi) technology (dCas9). The ultimate goal is a C. difficile-specific bacteriophage therapeutic which ablates toxin production in those cells that are infected with phage, converting them into health promoting probiotics. Unlike antibiotics, phage cause no collateral damage to the native gut microbiome.

The team was also nominated for ‘Best New Composite Part’. A composite part is a functional unit of DNA consisting of two or more basic parts assembled together. These must include all characterisation information and be added to the Registry.

Human Practices and Public Engagement

The team devised a number of activities that explored how Clostridium dTox could impact society. This included mining and carrying out a sentiment analysis of data from hundreds of social media comments on an online phage therapy video and exploring the current legislation surrounding phage therapy. They also researched what makes C. difficile such an important issue to society and how their project can help make a positive impact on communities by working towards the development of a novel therapy for its treatment. Finally they held a discussion group with non-scientists, and interviewed five leading scientific experts in the field, including the UK Public Health England lead on C. difficile infection, to understand how the team could make their project as effective as possible.

Public engagement was an important focus for the team, which developed hands-on workshops to communicate the project in local schools, libraries and to staff and students at the University. The team members have also been busy promoting their project via a range of social media platforms as well as by publishing articles in a local newspaper and in the University of Nottingham’s Impact Magazine.

Gold Medal

All of these aspects enabled the team to produce a project of high enough quality to win a Gold Medal at the Giant Jamboree, recognising the fulfilment of all the competition criteria. The Gold winning team members were; Lucy Allen, Hassan Al-ubeidi, Ruth Bentley, Sofya Berestova, Eun Cho, Lukas Hoen, Daniel Partridge, Varun Lobo, Fatima Taha and Nemira Zilinskaite.

“This was a tremendous achievement considering the short time that the team had to design, build and test the parts needed for the innovative project they devised. We broke new ground for iGEM by engineering a strict anaerobic bacterium, rather than the more traditional chassis other teams focus on. This was made possible by the extensive skills and expertise available through the involvement of SBRC researchers who gave so much of their free time to supervise the team”. – Nigel P Minton, SBRC Director, Nottingham

“Doing iGEM has given me a holistic understanding of the synthetic biology process. Coming from a Computer Science background, I had no knowledge of the science prior to iGEM, but working alongside talented team-mates meant that I left with a much better understanding of our project. I feel that my communication skills have improved since starting iGEM, as it has allowed me to interact with students and experts from many disciplines”. – Hassan Al-ubeidi, UG Computer Science.

“iGEM was an exciting challenge. As the sole modeller for our team, I improved my ability to work independently to research and solve problems. I learnt how to communicate my work in a way such that those with less technical knowledge can understand. Attending the Jamboree and seeing other projects made me appreciate the power of synthetic biology to build a better world”. – Ruth Bentley, UG Mathematics.

What the Judges Said

“Great project, great wiki!! You just light up so many questions in my mind and actually this is the key of synthetic biology! Thank you so much for your effort and all hard work!”

“Super interesting idea to use temperate phages for this! …. You are clear on your achievements and reasoning throughout, which is super refreshing. Great effort!”

“Really terrific modelling efforts! I really liked how thoroughly your work was documented on your wiki; everything was very clear.”

“Overall the project idea was very innovative, and you have great characterization on your parts. Good job!”

“Very impressive! It is very inspiring that your project used phage therapy, RNA interference and the extended application of CRISPR/Cas technology.”

“Amazing job, I hope that you continue this project.”

Sponsors

Nottingham’s iGEM team was generously supported by the University of Nottingham’s Research Priority Area in Industrial Biotechnology, through grant funding from the Wellcome Trust, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) via the Nottingham Digestive Diseases Centre, by generous cash donations from Don Whitley Scientific Ltd, LanzaTech and Seres Therapeutics and through in-kind support from Qiagen, Millipore Sigma, Promega, Eppendorf, New England Biolabs, LabFolder and Snapgene.

Collaborators

The team also wishes to acknowledge support provided by the following collaborators: Team Biomarvel Korea and the teams from Imperial College London and the University of Warwick.

sponsors for Nottingham iGEM

iGEM_Fatima

Second Interview with Nottingham iGEM Team

You may have read our previous article that explained how Don Whitley Scientific Limited became involved in sponsoring a team from The University of Nottingham that have entered The International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) Foundation competition.

iGEM is an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to education and competition, the advancement of synthetic biology, and the development of an open community and collaboration. iGEM runs the iGEM Competition – an international team competition made up of predominantly undergraduate students interested in the field of synthetic biology.

We spoke to another member of the team – Fatima Taha (pictured left) – to find out more about what the competition means to her and how she believes it might help in her future career. Fatima is a 3rd year Human Genetics student and we asked her:

What role do you play in the iGEM team? I have 3 roles really: I’m part of the wet lab team, part of the fundraising team, and also team leader – so the person to go to if there are any problems or issues that require bringing to the attention of the supervisors.

Have you used the Whitley Workstation and what did you use it for? I use the Whitley Anaerobic Workstation all the time. We grow up Clostridium difficile and take time points, pick colonies, etc inside the workstation. The cabinet works really well for us.

What do you think you will get out of the competition personally?

I was taking a gap year and worked for a year in a laboratory at a hospital. I fell in love with the hands-on process in that lab and decided I really want to continue working in the research sector – in a clinical application or in academia.

It’s more than just a synthetic biology competition – there’s so much more to it. We are encouraged to collaborate with other teams and with other people generally. It’s about getting the word out there. I enjoy the whole exercise of looking to engage with people about synthetic biology; getting involved with schools on the subject.

I’m really enjoying the communications side of the whole project and have written four articles for a university website and student magazine. The multi-disciplinary teams involved have such different strengths and weaknesses but it all comes together – and that’s fascinating. Going forward I am sure this whole process will have enhanced my own skill set.

What are you most looking forward to about going to Boston?

Meeting the other teams and seeing what they are doing. We have been working on our project for so long now, I’m excited to see what the others have been doing.

Don Whitley Scientific is proud to help sponsor some of the students to attend the finale in Boston, which we hope will provide the additional networking, team-building and general interaction to help the students in their future careers.  We wish Fatima and the team the very best of luck in the competition and hope that The University of Nottingham team brings home the grand prize.

More About iGEM

iGEMers state that they are building a better world by solving problems with the help of synthetic biology. The iGEM Competition inspires nearly 6,000 students each year to work in teams to address unique challenges in their local communities.

They celebrate team achievements at the annual Giant Jamboree (24-28 October) by showcasing projects from participating teams and awarding medals, prizes, and the grand prize, the BioBrick trophies.

Their aim is to inspire responsible innovation through efforts in biosafety, biosecurity and public outreach.

iGEM Community

The iGEM community is made up of international trailblazers from over 45 countries around the world.

In 2017 iGEM launched the After iGEM program. This program supports over 30,000 iGEMers – students and instructors – who have gone through the competition since its inception in 2004. This global network is leading the field, taking what they learned in the competition and expanding it to continue to build a better world.

 

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Distributor Meeting Held at New Factory

Last week, DWS welcomed 38 representatives from over 20 different countries for the first International Distributor Meeting to be held at our new factory in Bingley. On the first night we held a welcome dinner, and as part of the evening there was a presentation to four of our distributors who had excelled in certain areas. Our special thanks and congratulations to VWR (Sweden), Lab Technologies (India), Cold Spring Biotech Corp (Taiwan) and Hua Yue Enterprise Holdings Ltd (China). Another award should go to our colleagues from AS1 Limited in New Zealand, who travelled over 11,000 miles to be with us!

It was a busy few days packed with sales and installation training on the WASP Touch and our hypoxic, anaerobic and microaerobic workstations. The meeting provided an invaluable opportunity for the distributors to get hands-on experience with our whole product range and to receive training from the people who design and build our equipment on a daily basis. One of the attendees commented: “Our thanks to you and all your colleagues for a brilliant couple of days and a superbly structured meeting which I’m sure will be very fruitful.”

As with our past meetings, we felt it was important to balance out the hard work with some fun and offer our guests a chance to socialise after the training sessions. Our evening entertainment included lots of delicious food and activities such as bowling, cheese-tasting, a magic show (courtesy of our wonderfully multi-talented sales rep, Stuart) and a musical performance from a local brass band.

Distributors_Oct18_Group PhotoWe are very grateful to the distributors who took time out of their busy schedules to attend, and for all of their hard work during the week. We hope everyone enjoyed it as much as we did and look forward to our next meeting!

Hollins_Oct18_Award_Labtech India

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Parkside School

MD Speaks at Local School

Earlier today, Paul Walton (Managing Director of Don Whitley Scientific), gave a presentation to 180 thirteen and fourteen year olds at Parkside School, in Cullingworth, Bradford as part of a careers event. Paul stressed the importance of working hard at school and suggested students see school as a real investment in their futures – potentially ensuring they don’t spend a huge proportion of their lives in jobs they don’t like! He talked about the different roles at DWS and what students might need to study for roles such as these.

 

 

Paul gave some background information on DWS and the workstations that the company manufactures. He also spoke about the apprenticeship scheme at DWS, as one of the routes into manufacturing organisations.

Our thanks to Joanne Sykes, Assistant Head at Parkside School who organised the event in conjunction with Bradford Manufacturing Week.

Dan Partridge, iGEM participant

DWS Supports Nottingham iGem Team

Don Whitley Scientific Limited were recently approached by Professor Nigel Minton from the University of Nottingham requesting some sponsorship to enter a global competition. The International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) Foundation is an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to education and competition, the advancement of synthetic biology, and the development of an open, collaborative community. iGEM runs the iGEM Competition – an international team competition made up of predominantly undergraduate students interested in the field of synthetic biology.

We spoke to one of the team – Daniel Partridge (pictured below) – to find out more about the competition and what it means to him personally. Dan is a 3rd year BSc student studying Biotechnology. We asked him:

Can you explain the project you are working on? Our project centres on the Clostridium difficile bacteriophage. With the increase in antibiotic resistance, we need to develop a more precise method to attack the pathogen C. difficile, as this bacterium can cause unpleasant and sometimes serious bowel problems.

Do you play a specific role in the iGEM team? There are 10 students and five supervisors in the team. We started out with specific roles. There are three lab teams: two are trying to reduce toxin production of C.difficile using genetic engineering techniques – RNA interference and CRISPR dCas9 – and the third group is the promoter team (contribution). The non-lab teams look at human/outreach, financing, computing and modelling.

How many teams are in the competition? There are about 400 teams across the world.

What do you think you will get out of the competition personally? I am going into my 3rd year so the opportunities this competition will provide to get into problem solving and thinking-on-the-spot will be invaluable in my future career. With the sheer number of scientists that will be in Boston, it will be a fantastic networking opportunity. I understand that we may also be given the chance to look round the laboratories of some organisations in the area.iGEM team photo

Don Whitley Scientific recognises the importance of initiatives like this that strive to further scientific breakthroughs and we are happy to support the team. We wish Dan and the team the very best of luck in the competition and hope that their project brings home the grand prize. Click here to learn more about SBRC Nottingham.

More About iGEM

iGEMers state that they are building a better world by solving problems with the help of synthetic biology. The iGEM Competition inspires nearly 6,000 students each year to work in teams to address unique challenges in their local communities.

They celebrate team achievements at the annual Giant Jamboree by showcasing projects from participating teams and awarding medals, prizes, and the grand prize, the BioBrick trophies.

Their aim is to inspire responsible innovation through efforts in biosafety, biosecurity and public outreach.

iGEM Community

The iGEM community is made up of international trailblazers from over 45 countries around the world.

In 2017 iGEM launched the After iGEM program. This program supports over 30,000 iGEMers – students and instructors – who have gone through the competition since its inception in 2004. This global network is leading the field, taking what they learned in the competition and expanding it to continue to build a better world.

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2018 DWS Microbiology Prize Awarded

Earlier this year, we presented the annual Don Whitley Scientific Prize for Microbiology to the student who achieved the highest marks in Microbiology at the University of Bradford. The 2018 winner, Christiana Victoria Cismaru, gained a 1st Class Honours and said of her experience:

“I am honoured… this is a huge accomplishment for me, a reward for all the hard work and time I invested whilst at the University of Bradford. There was so much to learn… Choosing Medical Microbiology as my final year option allowed me to focus on the subjects I was most interested in and opened my eyes to current issues, such as emerging viruses and antimicrobial resistance; this has influenced me in choosing to pursue a research career in virology after graduation.”

Christiana will be going on to study for an MSc in Molecular Biology and Pathology of Viruses at Imperial College London and then hopes to pursue a PhD in the same research area; we wish her all the best in her future endeavours. She is pictured here with Dr Andrew Pridmore, Head of Science at Don Whitley Scientific and himself a recipient of the accolade in 1991.

Whitley Hypoxystation

The Leukemic Stem Cell Niche: Adaptation to “Hypoxia” Versus Oncogene Addiction

Hematopoietic stem cells (HSC) are responsible for constantly maintaining and replenishing the supply of new blood and immune cells. They give rise to both lymphoid and myeloid progenitor cells, which then proceed to differentiate down their respective paths to form various specialized cells such as erythrocytes, macrophages, B and T cells, to name a few. Within the body, HSCs are found to reside in extremely low oxygen environments called stem cell niches (SCN). Like all other regulated cell cycles, HSCs can lead to cancers such as leukemia and lymphoma if cell division becomes uncontrolled.

MEL (a), Kasumi-1 (b), or NB4 (c) cells were incubated in atmosphere at 0.1% O2 and lysed at the indicated times, and total cell lysates were subjected to immunoblotting with the indicated antibodies. GAPDH, H4, or ARD1 were detected to verify loading equalization. Migration of molecular weight markers is indicated on the left (kDa). For each cell population, one out of three independent experiments with similar outcome is shown.

Figure 2: Suppression of oncogenic proteins driving non-CML blood neoplasias in the course of cell “adaptation to hypoxia.” MEL (a), Kasumi-1 (b), or NB4 (c) cells were incubated in atmosphere at 0.1% O2 and lysed at the indicated times, and total cell lysates were subjected to immunoblotting with the indicated antibodies. GAPDH, H4, or ARD1 were detected to verify loading equalization. Migration of molecular weight markers is indicated on the left (kDa). For each cell population, one out of three independent experiments with similar outcome is shown.

In this paper, Cheloni et al. primarily focused on chronic myeloid leukemia (CML).

The authors hypothesized that suppression of the BCR-Abl oncogene is likely a key positive regulator of LSC survival within “hypoxic” SCNs. To analyse the various mechanisms and responses that CML cells demonstrate within SCNs, the authors studied correlations between varied oxygen and glucose concentrations with the amount of BCR-Abl produced. All tests were performed using two human CML cell lines, K562 and KCL22. Testing conditions were precisely controlled to mimic the SCN environment as close as possible. Using a Hypoxystation supplied by Don Whitely Scientific, a water-saturated atmosphere comprising of 0.1% O2, 94.9% N2 and 5% CO2 was generated and maintained.

The research conducted and documented by Cheloni et al. has provided great insight into several key regulatory mechanisms associated with leukemic stem cells as well as an explanation for their notorious reputation for having high relapse rates. Additionally, they established that the triggering of oncogene suppression associated with CML is due to severe energy restriction rather than simply the “adaptation to hypoxia.”

The Don Whitley Scientific Hypoxystation provides the user incredible flexibility as it can control oxygen down to 0.1% while providing a temperature and humidity controlled environment with ample working space. The extreme precision provided by the Hypoxystation was critical to the collection of accurate and reliable data when recreating the demanding environment that comprises SCNs. The atmosphere is constantly monitored and adjusted by the real-time feedback system to ensure accuracy and ISO class 3 clean room HEPA filtration is also available for long term cell culture applications.

Choose your atmosphere with the Hypoxystation hypoxia chamber. Accurately control O2, CO2, Temperature and Humidity.   

Hypoxystation is the only hypoxic chamber purpose built for physiological cell culture research. Specifically designed to create normoxic, hypoxic and anoxic conditions within a controlled and sustained workstation environment, this hypoxic incubator is ideal for research requiring the ability to accurately control O2, CO2, temperature and humidity. The Whitley Internal HEPA Filtration System provides a particle-free internal environment that exceeds ISO 14644 class 3 clean atmosphere.  With such accurate control and the ability to manipulate cells in situ without altering the incubation environment, research into cell biology can be performed over a comprehensive range of oxygen tensions with precision. Don Whitley Scientific offer the following range of Hypoxystations:

                                                                                   

Hypoxystation H35

Hypoxystation H45

Hypoxystation H85

Hypoxystation H135

i2 Instrument Workstation

Application possibilities for Hypoxystation are endless; it is being used for research into tumour microenvironment, hypoxia pathways and HIF signalling, in vitro modelling of in situ environments, cancer cell metastasis, angiogenesis, and many other fields where cells may benefit from a more physiological atmosphere.

 

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Supporting the Scientific Community

As well as manufacturing and supplying equipment for microbiology and cell culture applications worldwide, Don Whitley Scientific also makes an extensive effort to support the scientific community. For several years we have supported science through various means, these are listed below.

 

 

 

Workstation Poster Grant

If you have used a Whitley Workstation or Hypoxystation in your work and have mentioned it in your poster or published paper, let us know and you could be entitled to a grant of £250. All we ask in return is a copy of your poster/paper so we can use it on our website to help promote the range to others. Payment will be made in good faith after receipt and approval of the draft poster/paper to enable you to travel to the event to present it.

To apply for this grant, please send a copy of your draft poster or paper along with your contact details to steve_robertson@dwscientific.co.uk. If you are presenting a poster at an event, don’t forget to let us know the title of the event and the date you will be making your presentation.

 

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WASP_gram stain module

New Slide Preparation Module for WASPLab

DWS announces that from September 2018 a new Gram Slide Preparation Module for WASPLab™ will be available. This radically new slide prep module involves an exciting update to the technology, which significantly cuts maintenance costs. It also provides massive savings on consumables as, for example, it does not now require ink jet cartridges but uses laser technology to engrave the slides.

Automating slide selection and preparation in this way saves a great deal of time and prevents user error. With this new module, Copan once again prove how they continue to advance automation for the modern laboratory.

The previous Slide Preparation Module will be available for purchase only until February 2019, when it will be discontinued.

WASPLab™ is a sophisticated, barcode-driven microbiology specimen processor and work-up system. WASPLab™ moves samples from front end processing to full specimen management, with automated incubation and remote plate image analysis.

With its modular design and small footprint, WASPLab™ can be customised to the unique needs of your laboratory. The robotic plate management system, smart incubators and state-of-the-art image acquisition technology are changing the way labs work and are opening the door for ground-breaking digital microbiology. WASPLab™ is a truly modular system and can be added to when sample throughput increases, when additional resources are available and when new developments provide additional automated solutions.

 

 

 

 


Don Whitley Scientific have installed and maintained WASP and WASPLab systems in the UK for several years, sites include Manchester, Leeds and Blackburn.

For more information on WASPLab™, please don’t hesitate to get in touch via sales@dwscientific.co.uk or call us on +44 (0)1274 595728