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Archive for March, 2019

Emmanuela Bonglack from Duke University pictured at the HypOxygen exhibition stand after being announced as the winner of a free ski lesson

Keystone Symposia: Tumor Metabolism

Don Whitley Scientific‘s official US distributors, HypOxygen, recently attended the Keystone Symposia on Tumor Metabolism which was held in Colorado last month. Congratulations to Emmanuela Bonglack from Duke University (pictured) who was the lucky winner of a free skiing lesson that HypOxygen were giving away!

The team were showcasing the i2 Instrument Workstation at the meeting as well as offering a preview of the soon to be released Whitley Media Conditioner.

The i2 Workstation provides the ideal environment for the Seahorse XF Analyser as there is 0% CO2 providing both optimal performance for your experiments and also an atmosphere where cells and tissue can be incubated at physiologically relevant conditions. The workstation maintains an internal temperature no higher than 28°C, ensuring that the Seashore is able to operate at the intended temperature.

Click here to watch a 3 minute testimonial video featuring Dr Ayse Latif from the University of Manchester as she discusses using an i2 Workstation and H35 HEPA Hypoxystation in her research into treatments for gynaecological cancers.

We were very excited to debut another new product, the Whitley Media Conditioner, ahead of its official release later this year. We understand the importance of time constraints in the laboratory, and this innovative piece of equipment will allow researchers to equilibrate their media within 30-40 minutes as opposed to the conventional 24 hour period.

Don Whitley Scientific will next be exhibiting at the upcoming AACR Annual Meeting, held in Atlanta, Georgia (29th March – 3rd April) so please do come by for a chat at stand # 4012. You can also pick up one of our workstation stress toys and enter our photo competition for the chance to win a £100 Amazon voucher.

Omar Hussain, hypoxia product specialist for DWS attending the Keystone Symposia held in Florence

Conference Commentary: Keystone Symposia – Cancer Metastasis

This article was written by DWS’s newly-appointed Hypoxia Product Specialist, Omar Hussain (pictured) and is the first in a series of conference commentaries.

I recently started my new post at Don Whitley Scientific as a Hypoxia Product Specialist and my first exhibition took me to the beautiful city of Florence, Italy to attend the recent Keystone Symposia. The meeting was heavily focused on cancer metastasis and the role of metabolism, immunity and the tumour microenvironment. Held over the course of 4 days, the meeting consisted of talks and poster presentations as well as the social networking aspect common to all conferences.

Some of the key moments included the first talk entitled ‘Chromosomal instability and genome plasticity in cancer evolution, immune evasion and metastasis’ delivered by the keynote speaker, Professor Charles Swanton from the Francis Crick Institute. Professor Swanton discussed the importance of early genome doubling and smoking mutations in depth, and gave some great insight into his latest research which was very well-received.

Dr Massimiliano Mazzone (VIB Center for Cancer Biology, Department of Oncology, University of Leuven, Belgium) was more focused on how anti-cancer immunotherapy has provided patients with a promising treatment. Upon speaking to him after his talk, he instantly recognised the Don Whitley Scientific logo as the University of Leuven uses several Whitley Workstations (see our previous blog article detailing the research they are conducting with their Anaerobic Workstations). Dr Mazzone even came over later for a photograph with the H35 Hypoxystation we were exhibiting!

As well as the talks, the posters were of a very high standard – especially several which were presented by PhD students. In addition to PhD students, many researchers visited our exhibition stand and were very impressed with the H35 Hypoxystation; it was great to see the amount of people who recognise Whitley Workstations and what they can be used for.

Don Whitley Scientific will next be exhibiting at the upcoming AACR Annual Meeting, held in Atlanta, Georgia (29th March – 3rd April) so please do come by for a chat at stand # 4012. You can also pick up one of our workstation stress toys and enter our photo competition for the chance to win a £100 Amazon voucher.

Dr Andrew Dempster from the SBRC, University of Nottingham, using a Whitley A95TG anaerobic cabinet

SBRC Uses 12 Whitley Workstations in Anaerobic Clostridia Research

Almost 100 researchers at the Synthetic Biology Research Centre (SBRC) at the University of Nottingham work with anaerobic organisms. To accommodate their high workload, the group has 12 Whitley Anaerobic Workstations.

We spoke to Dr Andrew Dempster, pictured left working in an A95TG Anaerobic Workstation, who said: “the stable anaerobic environment provided by these cabinets – with our heavy usage – allows us to carry out reliable and reproducible work at the SBRC.”

The group utilise Clostridium sporogenes to develop novel cancer therapies and also work with anaerobic pathogens such as Clostridium botulinum, Clostridium perfringens and Clostridium difficile.

Dr Dempster’s work focuses on certain key members of the human gut microbiota and how they relate to Clostridium difficile; an opportunistic gut pathogen which is able to colonise and cause disease after a patient is treated with broad spectrum anti-microbials, resulting in the depletion of normal gut microbiota.

It is believed that certain gut microbiota play key roles in preventing C. difficile infections, and the group is working to characterise these mechanisms and enhance their therapeutic potential through molecular methods.

To learn more about the research the SBRC is conducting, watch this 2 minute video:

Whitley Workstations Installed at the University of Oxford

DWS Product Specialist, Paul Harrison, unloading the i2 Instrument Workstation at the Chemistry Research Laboratory at the University of Oxford
DWS Product Specialist, Paul Harrison, unloads the i2 Instrument Workstation

Our team recently visited the Chemistry Research Laboratory at the University of Oxford to install a Whitley H35 Hypoxystation, paired with an i2 Instrument Workstation which will house a Seahorse Analyzer used by the McCullagh Group in the Department of Chemistry.

Professor James McCullagh is the Director of the Mass Spectrometry Research Facility and his group’s research focuses on developing mass spectrometry and separation science applications at the interface between chemistry, biology and medicine.

This involves comprehensive identification and quantification of small molecules in complex natural systems from the isolation and testing of plant natural products to investigating changes in metabolism associated with diseases such as cancer.

Understanding how metabolism changes in disease can lead to new therapeutic targets and innovative ways to diagnose, treat and monitor disease.

The H35 Hypoxystation along with the i2 Instrument Workstation will be heavily utilised in the study of cell and tissue metabolism under hypoxic conditions with various collaborations both internally and externally.

These studies can be carried out under varied oxygen tensions which range from 0.1% to 20% and can be adjusted in increments of 0.1% in the H35 Hypoxystation.

The i2 Instrument Workstation provides the ideal environment as it cools the Seahorse device with 0% CO2 for optimum performance as well as providing an atmosphere where cells and tissue can be incubated at physiologically relevant conditions.

The combination of the two workstations allows an easy flow of plates from the H35 Hypoxystation to the i2 Instrument Workstation.

Although a small detail – the wireless foot pedals operating the vacuum for the sleeves have proved to be a big hit for the team for ease of use and as a preventative measure for trip hazards!

The features of the H35 Hypoxystation and i2 Instrument Workstation will be paramount in enabling Professor McCullagh’s team to conduct their research under hypoxic conditions.

Holly Proctor, Engineering Apprentice at Don Whitley Scientific

An Interview with Holly Proctor: Don Whitley Scientific’s First Female Engineering Apprentice.

How did you hear about the DWS apprenticeship scheme?
I came to DWS for work experience and spent some time in the production department, but it wasn’t really for me. I liked the look of the engineering workshop and asked if I could spend the rest of my placement in there; I really enjoyed it and that was when I found out about the apprenticeship scheme and decided to apply.

What do you do at DWS?
I help with programming and maintaining the CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machines, and manufacture components for external customers as well as components used in DWS products.  

Why did you want to work at DWS?
I really enjoyed my time during work experience, so hoped I would be accepted for the apprenticeship scheme – but I did look at a few other engineering companies just in case. One in particular was a huge corporation and I realised I didn’t want to work somewhere that big; I felt much more comfortable with the smaller team at DWS and thought it would give me more chance to shine.

What do you most enjoy about your work?
I enjoy the variety of being able to switch between the mill and lathe machines, and I like seeing a block of raw material transformed into something else and knowing that I made it happen.

Do you have a role model who inspired you to follow this career path?
My dad was a mechanic, but sadly he passed away when I was quite young. Part of me wanted to try it out as a way to make him proud; along the way I realised that I really enjoyed it too!

What advice would you give to other girls who might be thinking about a career in engineering but are worried about entering a male-dominated world?
Just go for it! I was the only girl in my technology class at school, but I really enjoyed it so would encourage anyone who’s interested to give it a try. It never occurred to me that I couldn’t do it.

Dr Don Whitley, receiving his Honorary Doctor of Science degree from the University of Bradford in 2009

Don Whitley Dies at the Age of 89

The directors of Don Whitley Scientific Limited are very sad to announce that Dr Don Whitley, founder and chairman of Don Whitley Scientific Limited, died on Thursday, 28 February 2019 after a short illness.

Taking a keen interest in the company’s product development projects up until a few weeks before his death, Don would have celebrated his 90th birthday this coming June. 

Within a few hours of his death, tributes began to arrive from all over the world. He was generous with his time, supported many scientists in the early years of their careers, was widely travelled and had many, many friends. 

Born in London in 1929, the family moved to Leeds in 1940 because Don’s father was employed in the tea industry, which was dispersed throughout the country during the Second World War.

Don wanted to train as a doctor, but was dissuaded from doing so by his parents. Don initially joined the staff of the Hospital for Women in Leeds as a student Medical Laboratory Technician. For ten years he worked at Leeds Maternity Hospital and Killingbeck Hospital.

In 1956 Don joined Oxoid Ltd, now owned by Thermo Fisher Scientific, as a technical representative, covering North East England and, later, the Republic of Ireland. Other sales and technical roles in several companies culminated in his appointment as Technical Director of the Bydand Group.

In 1973 Don and a Bydand Group colleague formed LIP (Equipment and Services) Ltd. Then, in 1976, with the proceeds of the sale of his minority shareholding in LIP, Don and his wife, Pam, started Don Whitley Scientific in the spare bedroom and basement of their home in Shipley.

For over 15 years Don drove product development projects that resulted in numerous innovations and in the steady growth and development of the business. He possessed an ideal blend of scientific and engineering knowledge, natural curiosity and wide-ranging interests. He is named on 24 national and international patents. He “retired” and became company chairman in 1992 when Paul Walton (his son) became managing director. Don retained a strong interest in product development activities and was consulted frequently, although he was no longer involved in the day-to-day management of the business. He attended key conferences and scientific meetings and events – and was held in high regard by many influential individuals in our industry. As an indication of Don’s stamina and zest for life well into his 80s, he and Pam embarked on a three month overseas tour over the winter of 2014/2015. They visited distributors and customers in Dubai, India, Vietnam, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore during the trip of a lifetime!

The company he founded now employs 89 staff and owns the majority shareholding in subsidiaries in Germany and Australia.

Ironically, had he become a medical doctor he may not have contributed to improvements in public health and the understanding and treatment of cancer in anything like the same way as he did, all over the world, through the company he founded.

In 2009 Don was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Science degree by the University of Bradford, acknowledging a lifetime of achievements in applied microbiology.

In accordance with Don’s wishes there will not be a funeral. He requested that his body be left to medical research at the University of Nottingham Medical School. A celebration of Don’s life will take place later in the year.

Don was married three times and had seven children. Two sons, two grandsons, a granddaughter and a great-grandson work within the company he founded.

Highlighting Hypoxia: Hypoxystation User Publications in Tumour Metabolism

Poldip2 is an oxygen-sensitive protein that controls PDH and αKGDH lipoylation and activation to support metabolic adaptation in hypoxia and cancerParedes et al.

By performing hypoxic studies in their Whitley H35 Hypoxystation on a variety of cell lines, researchers at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia have found that a protein with a previously unknown function (polymerase -δ interacting protein 2 (poldip2)) actually plays a key role in mitochondrial function and cell metabolism.  They have shown that lipoylation of pyruvate dehydrogenase and α-ketoglutarate dehydrogenase (αKDH) complexes is a dynamically regulated process that is inhibited under hypoxia and in cancer cells to restrain mitochondrial respiration.

By exposing cells to varying degrees of oxygen tensions in their H35, they were able to show that poldip2 is down-regulated by hypoxia. In addition, they were able to show that by forced expression of Poldip2, respiration increased and the growth rate of cancer cells decreased.  Further work needs to be done with Poldip2 especially in discovering its relationship with HIF-1α, however this work is a great addition to the body of knowledge we have about tumour metabolism.  All this is thanks to the researchers at Emory University and their H35 Hypoxystation. To view the paper, click here.