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Monthly Archives: September 2011

  • Water Treatment by Sunlight

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    Today’s Laboratory Equipment newsletter features an interesting article on how Purdue researchers have created a water-disinfection system that uses ultraviolet radiation from the sun to remove pathogens. With 800 million people unable to access clean drinking water, the potential for water-cleaning system that can be powered by natural resources is tremendous. According to and the United Nations Human Development Report, every 20 seconds a child dies from a water-related disease.

    This water treatment device uses a parabolic reflector to capture sunlight and focus it onto a UV-transparent pipe through which the water flows. In a brilliant development, the reflector is made out of a type of wood, paulownia, which is inexpensive and easy to find in regions around the equator where these systems are most needed. Since these people do not have significant funds or materials, for any solution to be effective it would have to be inexpensive and practical to construct.

    In tests the UV treatment system has shown that it can incapacitate E. coli bacteria, but it has yet to show that it can neutralize other pathogens like those that cause cholera, typhoid and diarrhea. The engineers are looking into different reflective materials, such as metalized plastic, that could improve the effectiveness of the UV treatment method. The Purdue team has also been experimenting with a sand and gravel filtration system, which could possibly be used in conjunction with the sunlight treatment as a means of providing cheap drinking water. We’ve discussed sand filtration before, and the basic operation of this kind of filter is similar to filtration by other materials. Water flows slowly through layers of sand and gravel, allowing a bacterial film to build up on the surface of the filter which removes contaminants.

    While industrial water treatment is obviously much faster and more effective on a larger scale, this filter made of natural materials could create enough drinking water for a family to live on. Aqua Clara International, a non-profit firm in Michigan, has been working with Purdue and Moi University in Kenya and so for they have installed almost 2,000 of these sand filtration systems in Kenya!

    Read the announcement from the Purdue Newsroom

    This post was posted in Water and Fluid Separation News and was tagged with Water Treatment, News

  • Sterile Peace of Mind

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    Our newest product category, Sterilization Test Equipment, features several items with different methods for determining if your lab materials have been properly sterilized. So to avoid confusion in what can be a life-or-death matter, we’ve pulled together some resources from the manufacturer of this line, 3M Health Care.

    This product line can be broken down into three categories: Physical monitors, chemical indicators, and biological indicators. Because each type has its own unique advantages and disadvantages, the organizations that publish guidelines for sterilization, such as the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and AAMI (Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation), recommend a combination of these monitoring types to get a clear picture of the sterilization process.

    Let’s break down each type of sterilization monitor and its pros and cons:

    • Physical monitors – Includes gauges, electric readouts, etc.
      • Pros – Provides real time information.
      • Cons – Can only monitor one location at a time.
    • Chemical indicators – Usually specialized inks coated onto paper, plastic or foil.
      • Pros – Provides immediate feedback; size and cost allow for multiple placements.
      • Cons – Does not indicate lethality.
    • Biological indicators – Contains a large number of viable microorganisms (generally bacterial spores) that are known to resist a particular sterilization process.
      • Pros – Provides a direct indication of lethality.
      • Cons – Requires incubation before final results can be obtained.

    If you’d like to learn more about sterilization monitors, you can check out our catalog, as well as this self-study series that 3M Health Care published in this month’s Healthcare Purchasing News. They even included a test you can send in to them to see how much you know about sterilization in the medical field.

    This post was posted in Microbiology and Life Science News and was tagged with Medical, Laboratory Equipment

  • Solid Phase Extraction for Steroid Hormone Analysis

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    Steroid hormones such as estrogen are known to have profound effects on our short-term and long-term physiology, but difficulty separating them from brain tissue has long been a hindrance to further analysis. Thankfully, a new study shows scientists from the University of Massachusetts and UCLA have found success in this area by incorporating Solid-Phase Extraction (SPE) into their testing protocol.

    Traditional methods of isolating steroid hormones (or “neurosteroids”) by liquid extraction are problematic because these compounds are lipid soluble and brain tissue is very rich in lipids, which turns sample preparation into a sort of scavenger hunt and can lead to inaccurate measurements. In order to solve this problem, the authors designed a two-stage protocol of liquid and solid-phase extraction, in this case using a vacuum manifold endcapped with Empore C18-SD cartridges on brain tissue samples taken from songbirds.

    The authors of the paper note that since its introduction SPE has been hailed as a low-cost and safe solution to purify samples prior to immunoassay. The results of this experiment further support this claim as the researchers found the liquid/solid-phase extraction combination increased reliability and quantification of the sample measurements. They cite that the likely reason for the improvement is that SPE eliminates substances that interfere with the immunoassay’s enzyme reactions. Future tests will further examine the relationship between SPE and neurosteroids so we can improve our understanding of them.

    Read the entire study here

    This post was posted in Microbiology and Life Science News and was tagged with applications, Biotechnology, Solid Phase Extraction

  • NIH Award Winners

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    The National Institutes of Health is having a busy week as they present a batch of new medical research funding to contributors across the country. The bulk of this funding comes from the 79 awards totaling $143.8 million being distributed through three different research programs designed to promote innovative research: the NIH Director’s Pioneer, the New Innovator, and the Transformative Research Project.

    As if that wasn’t enough, NIH also announced the recipients for the NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse) Avant-Garde Awards for Innovative Medication Development Research. The two winners, Dr. Kosten of Baylor College of Medicine and Dr. Burkhard of University of Connecticut, will each receive $500,000 per year for five years to support their projects.

    Dr. Kosten is developing a human methamphetamine vaccine, which would limit the amount the drug that reaches the brain and therefore prevent the user from getting high. This vaccine wouldn’t prevent someone from becoming addicted to methamphetamine, but it could revolutionize drug treatment by limiting the withdrawal symptoms that can lead to relapse (It could also ruin “Breaking Bad”). Dr. Kosten’s group is aiming to begin clinical trials within the next five years.

    Dr. Burkhard is working on a new type of vaccine that would create a strong immune response against nicotine without requiring costly chemical enhancers. Instead, this new vaccine will use cutting-edge peptide nanoparticles to trigger the cellular immune response. This vaccination method is also being researched for the treatment of several common and rare diseases. Dr. Burkhard is also expecting to begin clinical trials within the next five years.

    For more information on NIH awards, including a full list of recipients, read the official announcement here.
    View the release on the NIDA Awards here.

    This post was posted in Microbiology and Life Science News and was tagged with News, Pharmaceutical

  • Filter Paper Assays for Insecticide Research

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    In searching for new weapons in their fight against the destructive mountain pine beetle, scientists at the USDA Forest Service are experimenting using filtration techniques to create more effective insecticide treatment. It is estimated that 8% of forests in the United States are at risk to insect or disease outbreaks; among this percentage the mountain pine beetle is considered the biggest threat.

    Mountain Beetle

    The Mountain Pine Beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae) Photo credit: Colorado State Forest Service

    It’s necessary to find new solutions to protect these trees because of concerns about the future availability of one of the most commonly used insecticide chemicals, carbaryl, for environmental reasons. A study published this year examined the effectiveness of different concentrations of carbaryl along with two other known insecticides, cyantraniliprole and Cyazypyr (30 Scrabble points!).

    For this experiment the researchers performed two different assays, one involved exposing the beetles to insecticide with filter paper and one through a topical treatment. For both tests they used 1 mL of various concentrations of the insecticides along with 934-AH filter paper (1.5 micron pore size, 90 mm diameter) stored in a sterile petri dish and dried in a fume hood.

    In the filter paper assay, small holes were drilled into the petri dish to provide ventilation and captured beetles were placed on the filter paper. The health of the beetles was then assessed at regular intervals to determine the effectiveness of each insecticide concentration. In the topical assessment, the insecticide was applied directly onto the beetles which were then placed on top of the filter discs.

    The results of the filter paper assays, which the authors believes more closely approximates field conditions than topical assays, found that is possible that much smaller amounts of carbaryl could be effective in the field, which is good news for the environment as concerns over the toxicity of this chemical have grown. As such, the authors recommend that smaller concentrations of carbaryl be tried in the field. Take that, pesky beetles!

    Read the full report here

    This post was posted in Microbiology and Life Science News and was tagged with applications, Environmental Lab, Glass fiber Filter

  • Ship on Your Own Account

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    We just updated our shipping options so now you can use your own shipping account for online orders! This was another feature that quite a few of our customers have asked about and we’re glad we could get it up and running this week. Just select “Use My Own Shipping Account” when checking out to choose your carrier (UPS, FedEx, DHL) and your method. Quick, simple, and there’s no handling fee so it’s a completely free option if you wish to use it!

    Please note however that entering incorrect account information can result in a delay with your shipment and maybe a scolding from me…Happy ordering!

    Shipping on Your Own Account

    This post was posted in Microbiology and Life Science News and was tagged with Website Features

  • Uses for Cytoclear Glass Slides

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    Cytoclear Glass SlidesHave you ever had difficulty observing the results of microscopic work performed with polycarbonate (PCTE) or polyester (PETE) membrane filters? If so, our Cytoclear Glass Slides can help. These glass slides are frosted with a light-diffusing treatment which makes it possible to directly observe aqueous biologicals such as phytoplankton under standard (non-inverted) microscopy or to correct light refraction that can occur when analyzing bacteria on black polycarbonate filters.

    For other applications where you’re looking at filters through a microscope, the cytoclear slides can help you avoid eye strain by reducing distracting lines or shadows that can occur.

    Whatever your reasons for using them, you can automatically save 50% this month on cytoclear glass slides or any other membrane accessory when you order them along with any of our polycarbonate or polyester membrane filters!

    You can learn more about these applications for cytoclear glass slides by reading this article on phytoplankton observation or this one on aquatic bacteria.

    This post was posted in Company News and was tagged with applications, Membrane Filtration

  • The T-SAR Approach to Study Nanofiltration Membranes

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    Scientists in Germany recently published a study in which they took a new approach to analyzing nanofiltration membranes. They used a methodology called “Thinking in terms of Structure-Activity-Relationships” (AKA T-SAR) that was first introduced in 2003 to determine the properties and the effects of different substance classes on biological systems. T-SAR was applied here to see if it could provide them with a better understanding of the NF membrane as well as predict the membrane’s performance for the recovery of ionic fluids.

    T-SAR analysis makes it possible to analyze a chemical compound using only its three-dimensional chemical structure, but the process is made more difficult and complex as the size of the molecule increases. This characteristic of T-SAR creates a problem for NF materials. In order to overcome it, the researchers combined T-SAR methods with traditional membrane characterization procedures to gather more conclusive evidence on the importance of chemical structure for separation performance. The algorithm to conduct the T-SAR analysis of a chemical compound includes 17 steps in the areas of: Chemical Structure, Stereochemistry, Molecular Interaction Potentials, and Reactivity.

    T-SAR Description
    The Components of T-SAR Analysis (Click to Make Larger)

    The materials involved for this experiment included two NF polyamide membranes (FilmTec NF-90 and NF-270) and three ionic liquids. In order to prep these membranes for T-SAR analysis, they were first subjected to some baseline analysis such as confirming their composition through spectroscopy and determining their pure water capability with an HP4750 stirred cell. The ionic fluids were tempered with deionized water to reduce the influence of additional ions and then cycled through the HP4750 to make samples of the feed, retentate, and permeate for ion-chromatography analysis.

    After this preparation and traditional analysis, the materials were then subject to the full T-SAR analysis procedure to determine if it really can be used to understand NF membranes and predict their performance. You’ll have to look at the full report for all of the detailed results of the T-SAR analysis.

    After all this work, the authors concluded that, “the experimental values obtained for the filtration of such ionic liquids are in good agreement with the predictions.” So it looks like T-SAR methodology might be used more often in NF membrane experiments! Sehr gut!

    Read the complete report here.

    This post was posted in Microbiology and Life Science News and was tagged with Chemistry, Nanofiltration

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