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Archive for November, 2016

Success at WorldSkills UK for Josh Page

After being ranked as one of the top 8 scorers in the WorldSkills UK Mechanical Engineering: CAD Competition, Josh Page has now competed in the national finals and achieved fourth place.

This is a particularly excellent result for Josh in view of the fact that the winner and runner up were from New College, Lanarkshire, who work very closely with the manufacturers of the software and were all highly accomplished users of Autodesk Inventor.

Competitors were tested on their performance using Autodesk Inventor CAD to produce 2D technical drawings, 3D models and 3D assemblies. Competitors were also required to produce animations, with a full understanding of BS/ISO drawing standards, and use them effectively in different situations.

Fergus Murray, Engineering Director and  manager of the Don Whitley Scientific apprenticeship scheme, said, “This is a fantastic result and Josh really deserves the accolade. His hard work, dedication and perseverance have allowed him to compete to such a high standard and we are very happy to have Josh working as a key member of our product development team.”

The event, the nation’s largest skills apprenticeships and careers event, was held from 17-19 November at the Skills Show 2016, NEC, Birmingham.


Well done, Josh.


Interview with Dr. William Weiss from University of North Texas

Our US distributor Microbiology International carried out this in-depth interview with Dr. William Weiss, a Whitley Workstation user from University of North Texas. 

Dr. William Weiss is the Director of Pre-Clinical Services at University of North Texas in Fort Worth, working to develop animal models in infectious disease for the evaluation of new and novel therapies in antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral research. He has been using a Don Whitley Scientific DG250 and an A35 anaerobic workstation for about two decades.

Read more about his research on novel antibiotics for the treatment of Clostridium difficile infection here.

Q: What manner of specimens are you working with and which bacteria do you cultivate in the anaerobic workstation?

A: Here in the Pre-Clinical Services group, we are essentially a contract research organization, and the majority of our work in the A35 anaerobic workstation involves C. difficile. We are carrying out various research projects for different pharmaceutical companies, and biotechnology companies, here in the US, as well as Europe and South America. There are various experimental models for reproducing C. difficile disease, for example, the “gold standard” model involving the hamster, and there is also one that involves mice.

Basically, in this model, spores from C. difficile are introduced into the animal, and they colonise in the gut. C. difficile spores come from the environment and are ubiquitous, but because they are held in check by the normal gut flora, they never proliferate and they never cause disease. It’s only when patients are treated with broad spectrum antibiotics that healthy bacteria are destroyed and C. difficile then proliferates and causes disease. That’s why often, people going into the hospital and receiving multiple antibiotics can develop C. difficile disease.

Q: So what is the role of the A35 workstation in your C.diff. research?

A: The model we are using to test novel therapies designed to combat this disease depends strongly on the A35: we grow the C. difficile culture by streaking the frozen cultures onto appropriate media, incubate them in the A35 chamber at 0% oxygen, and then harvest the vegetative cells and treat them to form spores, which we store. The spores are then introduced into the animals, the animals are treated with a broad-spectrum agent, they develop the disease, and we try different forms of therapy. The end-points in terms of efficacy are increased survival, as well as the amount of C. difficile that can be found in the fecal pellets of the hamsters, or in the contents of the cecum. We process the fecal pellets or a cecal sample and plate it, then we place those plates inside the chamber to incubate for about 48 hours. An animal that might have the disease could have 6 logs of C. difficile in their gut, whereas one that has seen successful treatment, such as with vancomycin, the gold standard right now, might be reduced from 6 logs to 2 logs or even less. All that incubation is being done inside the A35.

Q: The A35 isn’t your only workstation though, tell us about that.

A: With C. difficile being a larger problem than it used to be, we are seeing a real uptick in the number of companies interested in it, thus explaining our need for the A35 workstation. The C. difficile in the environment is very hardy, because it can form spores, but in order to count the spores, they have to germinate into the vegetative state, and that’s what you need the workstation for. Prior to the A35, we had the smaller DG250 model, and at the time, when we were just working with some bacteroides, not a lot, it sufficed. But when we started working with C. difficile, the amount of studies and the type of studies we did really expanded. So at that time, we contacted Microbiology International since we needed a larger workstation in order to accommodate all those studies. The A35 is now our second Whitley workstation, but we are still using the DG250, too. We’ve converted the DG250 to a microaerophilic environment, because we do Helicobacter pylori work in there. It’s a facultative anaerobe, so when we need to grow up plates or process samples, we use that smaller workstation with a 5% oxygen mix.

Read the full interview here

Read more about Dr Weiss’ work here


Visit HypOxygen at Society for Redox Biology and Medicine


From November 16-19, HypOxygen will be exhibiting the Hypoxystation at the annual meeting of the SFRBM in San Francisco, please stop by our booth #4

Please visit HypOxygen to find out how ROS (reactive oxygen species) research is benefitting from the physiological conditions cells experience in the Hypoxystation. The story below, from HypOxygen, looks at research into this line of work.

Increased production of ROS, which is both a symptom and a driver of cancer Hallmarks, can push cancer cells over the cliff of oxygen homeostasis. Compounds adding oxidative pressure can thus be utilized for selective tumor therapy. In their paper “Triggering apoptosis in cancer cells with an analogue of cribrostatin 6 that elevates intracellular ROS” , Hypoxystation users Asby et al. describe their approach to chemically modifying a natural compound from marine sponges, cribrostatin 6, to enhance its cytotoxic potential. They synthesized a modified molecule 8-phenylcribrostatin 6 (8PC6) that was both more potent and more selective for breast cancer cells. Co-author Ali Tavassoli from the University of Southampton says, “We study HIF-1, so working in a hypoxic environment is critical. Besides culturing our cells in the H35, we also harvest proteins and collect RNA inside the chamber. The H35 is very easy to use; the touch screen controls are straightforward and intuitive. We have used the workstation to incubate cells in hypoxia for ~5 days, and the atmosphere remains stable over time.”

Annexin V/7-AAD staining indicated that 8PC6 induces apoptosis in cancer cells. Treatment of MCF7 cancer cells with ROS-sensing dyes and siRNA to knock down ROS-protective TIGAR demonstrated that 8PC6 increases intracellular reactive oxygen species, upsetting the delicate redox balance in highly susceptible cancer cells and leading to cell death. Hypothesizing that reduction of the cribrostatin analogue yields a semi-quinone that reacts with molecular oxygen to generate superoxide, Asby’s group decided to withdraw oxygen from the equation by incubating the MCF7 cells in the Hypoxystation at 1% O2. Pre-incubation and subsequent incubation with increasing doses of 8PC6 in normoxia versus hypoxia showed that, indeed, the IC50 was increased up to 46-fold in hypoxia due to lack of oxygen. The Hypoxystation’s closed workstation format and rigorous control of oxygen, CO2, temperature and humidity facilitates authentic cell behavior as in vivo conditions are replicated. Thus, hypoxia in the workstation equated to significant reduction in the intracellular availability of oxygen for the generation of ROS. For research being conducted on highly hypoxic tumors, the workstation atmosphere represents a close approximation of the actual conditions cells encounter.

Read more on this story



Biomedical Scientist_Clinical Microbiology of Anaerobes Course

Practical and Clinical Microbiology of Anaerobes Course 2017

The Society for Anaerobic Microbiology proudly presents …

A 2 day residential course delivered by the UK Anaerobe Reference Unit, Public Health Wales, Cardiff

15-16 June 2017

Is it time to refresh your knowledge on culturing, identification and the clinical importance of  anaerobes?

Are your staff wanting to learn from experts about the latest technologies and techniques?
Only 20 places available

CPD accreditated by RCPath (11 credits)

Invaluable preparation for FRCPath

Cost: £350 + VAT (£330 + VAT for SAM members)

Cost includes one night accommodation at the Park Plaza Hotel, Cardiff and all meals & refreshments plus dinner on 15th June.

Aims of the Practical and Clinical Microbiology of Anaerobes Course

To promote an understanding and awareness of anaerobic bacteria in clinical material.
To gain an insight into their relevance in clinical microbiology.
To achieve a basic level of competence in methods used for their isolation and identification.
To improve the standards of anaerobic microbiology in clinical laboratories.

Preliminary Programme

Thursday 15 June

09:15 – 09:45 – Registration and Coffee
09:45 – 10:00 – Welcome and Introduction
10:00 – 12:30 – Session 1 – Back to basics – ID, susceptibility testing, hot topics
12:30 – 13:30 – Lunch
14:00 – 17:00 – Practical Laboratory Session
19:30 for 20:00 – Dinner and Quiz

Friday 16 June

09:00 – 12:30 – Clinical Case Histories
12:30 – 13:30 – Lunch
14:00 – 16:00 – Practical Laboratory Session
16:00 – 16:30 – Course Review and Departure
To reserve your place on the Practical and Clinical Microbiology of Anaerobes 2017 course, please contact:
Deborah Robinson at Don Whitley Scientific Limited on 01274 595728 or Email

Places will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.

Payment accepted by cheque (please make payable to Don Whitley Scientific Limited)
and Visa or Mastercard.

Sponsored by Don Whitley Scientific Limited

Don Whitley Scientific Partner Keele University Course

Don Whitley Scientific contributed to what has been labelled a “Great show from industry” at the Bioreactors & Growth Environments for Tissue Engineering course.

Held at The Institute for Science & Technology in Medicine, part of Keele University, the course was aimed at industry professionals and postgraduate level academics to provide a comprehensive understanding of using Bioreactors in Tissue Engineering. The course focused on bioreactors and growth environments for tissue engineering, covering bone, cartilage and connective tissue engineering. The course programme featured a range of national and international speakers and topics ranged from stem cell sources and hypoxia to nanomechanics.


The event organisers @ISTM_Keele on Twitter, commenting on the events success

As mentioned, the event featured a great turn out from companies in relevant industries who provide bioreactors and other equipment for tissue engineering work. Displayed on the Don Whitley Scientific trade stand was the TC-3 Bioreactor. The TC-3, from Ebers, is a simple, easy-to-use system for creating cell culture experimental set-ups with user-defined mechanical loading profiles. Also on the stand was the H35 Hypoxystation, which allows users to set specific, low oxygen atmospheres in which to incubate and culture cells.


Paul (DWS Technical Sales Representative) with the H35 Hypoxystation and Ebers TC-3 Bioreactor