Friday, 3 July 2009

Time flies when you’re having fun…

I can’t believe I’ve been here a week already! It has gone so quickly and I cannot begin to explain how much new stuff I’ve learned already!

First of all, I have to say that I am thrilled that I’m working on this particular research project, as it’s completely fascinating and the group of people I’m working with are lovely and very helpful. I really love the atmosphere in the labs.

On Monday, I began my placement with two other students – Esther and Charlie. We spent the first two days with a PhD student –Rhiannon, who very clearly taught us how to separate proteins using the Western Blot technique. I was glad that I wasn’t expected to know what I was doing as soon as I got there, which was my main fear before I begun. Also the fact that I wasn’t the only new student relieved some of the pressure, as we’ve all helped each other out when we couldn’t remember where things were kept or what ingredients we needed to use to make buffer solutions for example.

Techniques I’ve been learning this week centred around Western blotting. First of all I harvested Tamoxifen resistant breast cancer cells which were already being grown for me. Then I lysed them and spun them in the centrifuge to separate the proteins we are interested in from the cell membranes which I do not need to use for this particular experiment.

Once the cells were prepared I performed a protein assay to quantify the amount of ZIP7 (which is a zinc transporter which we are interested in, involved in Tamoxifen resistance in breast cancer cells) in each cell batch, which were treated differently by exposing them to zinc for different lengths of time. Then I moved onto performing a complete Western blot (from making the gels, buffers, running the samples, transferring to nitrocellulose, incubating with antibodies and then developing the blot in the dark room and so on) where I probed the nitrocellulose for ZIP7 and various other proteins in the cell to yield some conclusive results.

What I have learned very quickly, particularly from the Western blotting technique is that science is unpredictable in many ways, and procedures can produce unclear results at any stage as a result of random or human error.

Also Dr. Katherine Taylor gave us a lengthy talk today about her published and new unpublished research which was very informative and extremely interesting.

Already towards the end of the week and today, I feel like I’ve been able to think logically and independently to carry on with work without much guidance.

Biggest challenge of the week- trying to remember where everything is kept!

All in all, I’ve enjoyed this week lots, and am looking forward to next week.

I’ll update you next Friday on any shenanigans or break-throughs (hehe) I may make!

Until then, peace out zinc lovers :-)


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