Fat is Alive & Talks to Your Brain

Fat Is Alive

Most people think of fat as being inert, having no real purpose in the body than to keep you warm, and to prevent you from ever having the perfect summer body. The role of fat in the body is so under-appreciated, that when the doctor says, “you need to lose weight”, people often see it as an issue of “body shaming” rather than one of health. This is because fat is not seen as being alive, but as a by-product of too much sugar and starch. While the reality is that fat IS alive, in fact the fat in our bodies is made up of cells called adipocytes, and these cells comprise the functional unit of adipose tissue. Adipocytes and adipose tissue are a part of the endocrine and central nervous system.

Adiocytes – Living Fat

Adipocyte are specialized cells within adipose tissue that contain lipids in the form of multiple round droplets of triglycerides. Triglycerides are the building blocks of fats, as amino acids are the foundation of proteins. Adipocytes simply put are fat cells that transport and produce fat.

There are three types of fat cells: Continue reading

SEEDLESS BANANAS ARE NOT GMO

The banana’s we eat don’t have seeds, they are a result of a naturally occurring mutation that was subsequently exploited by human selection for breeding. Banana’s are a cultivar; they are a domesticated crop, reproduced in manner that selects for and maintains certain desired characteristic, such as, being seedless.  Banana’s reproduce vegetatively through an asexually process known as parthenocarpy, in which no fertilization is required for their propagation. Parthenocarpy is a genetic trait or characteristic imparted  by a gene, but this process has nothing to do with genetic modification, and banana’s are not genetically modified organisms (GMO) — at least not yet. Continue reading

Fetal Bovine Serum Price Increase Impacts Research and Development

The price of Fetal Bovine Serum (FBS) has drastically increased! At my university, we typically requested FBS from a large in-house supply purchased wholesale from an external source. One reason for this was to maintain consistency, as fetal bovine serum tends to vary from batch to batch. However, purchasing this way kept cost down ­– one half liter bottle of FBS could run around 500 dollars. Recently, the department sent out a notification that each lab would no longer be able to obtain a bottle of FBS, without it counting against its weekly budget. Going forward, 200 dollars will be deducted, reducing the overall funds available for the weekly purchase of other lab supplies.

Yesterday, I asked the Chairman’s secretary why this change had been made. She only knew that the price had gone up exponentially, but not why. So, I decided to do some investigatory work of my own. People often don’t understand that research is very expensive and time consuming work. An increase in the cost of supplies, means a decrease in how far the budget can be stretched, and an increase in the time it takes to get in essential supplies. Continue reading

Cell Culture: Preparing mammalian cells for storage

I have been working in vitro with monocyte cells for the past few months. I was fortunate to receive a flask of already cultured cells from a neighboring lab – fortunate because my lab did not have to pay to procure them. However, that meant I did not have a stock supply or a back-up  of the cell-line. Once you start working with cells, they have to be maintained at least every 2 to 3 days. There are only two of us currently working in my lab, so that means if I am away from the lab for an extended period of time I will have to freeze down aliquots of the cells for storage. This should be done with every cell-line you work with for the sake of continuity, amongst other reasons. Cell-lines age as you continue to work with them, and in time may begin to change in characteristics.

The process is slow but simple. Below is a brief description of how it’s done: Continue reading