Guest blog by Ashling Lavery, University College Cork (Currently undertaking a summer vacation studentship with Dr John Mackrill, University College Cork. Project title: The type 3 ryanodine receptor as a target for breast cancer chemotherapy)
I just finished the first week of my summer placement and have been really enjoying it so far. Things have been going well in the lab and we managed to get a bit ahead of schedule today. My project involves testing the effects of a drug, dantrolene, on breast cancer cell lines. The first part of the project, which will make up the first four weeks of my work, involves the use of the crystal violet (a nuclear dye) assay to measure effects of dantrolene on cell density. This week, after being trained in the safety procedures of the lab, I produced a standard curve that relates cell density to absorbance of crystal violet at 550nm. To do so, I had to do a lot of counting, which was the most tedious part of the task; the picture (left) was of the highest concentration of cells that I had to count. The rest of the task, however, was quite interesting and fairly straight-forward.
I’m really enjoying being able to do experiments from scratch, that is, making up my own buffers and dyes, applying them and analysing the results – the lab classes I’ve attended as part of my university course do not normally afford this level of involvement. I’m also enjoying just being around other researchers and getting to look in on their experiments while I’m waiting on one of my own experiments.