Author Archives: Cheryl Scott

Single-Use and Sustainability

What is sustainability? For some people, the special meaning of the word in an environmental context is how biological systems remain diverse and productive over time. Thus, sustainability is not just about saving resources or preventing pollution within a narrow context; it's more a long-term holistic approach to ecologically relevant activities. For other people, the term includes all environmental concerns, including those of immediate and/or nonbiological nature. Examples of such issues might involve a town's solid-waste disposal system or a…

The Heat of the Moment

Calorimetry (from the Latin calor for heat and the Greek metry for measuring) measures thermodynamics in chemistry. If energy enters or leaves a system, its temperature changes, and most chemical reactions involve changes in energy. Exothermic processes generate heat; endothermic processes consume it. So calorimeters measure the heat of chemical reactions or physical changes to a system. Since calorimetry's advent in the late 18th century, a number of different techniques have been developed. Early techniques were based on simple measurement…

North, South, East, and West

Electrophoresis is the basis of all blotting methods, and BPI Lab covered it last month (1). Electroblotting is a method for transferring electrophoretically separated proteins or nucleic acids onto a polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) or nitrocellulose membrane for permanence using electric current and a transfer buffer solution. This allows for analysts to further study them using probes, ligands, or stains. Capillary blotting is a variation designed to work with capillary electrophoresis. After electrophoresis the following are stacked in cathode-to-anode order: a…

Enabling Technologies

Many technological advancements in recent years have enabled companies to shorten time to market, to better understand their manufacturing processes, and to characterize their products well. In BPI’s December 2013 issue (pages 47–50), I reported on the first half of an informal reader survey about those technologies, with commentary from some survey participants and others. This month concludes with my examination of analytical, formulation/fill–finish, and facilities technologies. Analytical Technologies After writing several installments of our new “BPI Lab” series this…

Analysis By Size and Charge

An early BPI Lab article addressed the power of liquid chromatographic separations for biopharmaceutical laboratory use (1). Such techniques separate biomolecules based on a number of different properties: size, solubility, hydrophobicity/-philicity, binding affinity. The next most powerful means of separation — and thus high-resolution identification — of nucleic acids and proteins/peptides is based primarily on electrostatic properties: electrophoresis. Although it doesn’t really work in a process or preparative setting, it is a fundamental technique in modern biopharmaceutical laboratories, where it…

Enabling Technologies

    We hear a great deal lately about the maturation of the biopharmaceutical industry — and much advancement over the past decade or so has been in business models, financing, and product pipelines. Meanwhile, regulators around the world have become more well versed in the subject matter and have adjusted their approaches to and expectations from the industry. However, the practical side of developing, characterizing, and manufacturing biotherapeutic products cannot be overlooked — nor its importance overstated. Many technological…

Robots in the Laboratory

Whether cell-based or molecular biology focused, most assays performed in biopharmaceutical laboratories involve liquid solutions. Increasingly, automated liquid handlers (laboratory robotics) are demonstrating utility in these labs, especially for high-throughput screening and optimization of cell culture media, chromatography conditions, formulations, and so on. Some experts say that screening 100,000 samples/day will soon become routine. But the robots haven’t condemned all manual pipettes to the trash heap — far from it. With multichannel and electronic pipettes improving throughput and reproducibility of…

Cellular Communications

Like spectroscopy, as discussed in BPI Lab last month (1), cell signaling is not a laboratory technique but rather an area of scientific study. The environment of living cells — whether prokaryotic or eukaryotic, in vitro or in vivo — comprises not only water, nutrients, waste products, and metabolites, but also molecules released by other cells in response to intracellular events such as microbial infection and disease state or environmental factors such as temperature, osmolality, and pH. Receptor proteins on…

Enlightening Results

Separating spectroscopy from spectrometry is not as straightforward as it might seem. Spectroscopy is the science of the interactions between matter and radiated energy, and spectrometry is the technology that applies that science (1). The former generates no results on its own. It is concerned with spectra produced when matter interacts with or emits electromagnetic radiation, including all methods of producing and analyzing light spectra using spectroscopes, spectrographs, spectrometers, and spectrophotometers. The distinction should come from the meanings of the…

“Transformation By Infection”

Every bioprocess begins with an expression system, and every expression system begins with DNA transfection. Derived from transformation and infection, the word paradoxically has come to be applied mainly to nonviral methods of genetically engineering cells; viral-vector–mediated DNA transfer is often called transduction. There are chemical, particulate, physical/mechanical, and viral means of getting new genetic material into a cell, and that DNA may take a number of different forms. Even the cloning method (pictured right) using a microscopic needle to…