Education

Behind the Scenes of a Life Sciences Lab

Life science is basically the study of living things, including biochemistry, cell biology, anatomy, zoology, botany, and epidemiology. As you might suspect, a life science lab contains various equipment specific to its targeted science field. At the very least, it contains safety cabinets, workstations, centrifuges, and test tubes, but specific fields also require specialized equipment to help them work.

 

For example, an anatomy lab will likely have models of body parts to study. A biochemistry lab, on the other hand, will have cell sorters for processing and identifying cells. And botany labs likely have rooms filled with plants.

 

With the focus on infectious diseases in 2020, let’s examine cell sorting technologies that help scientists identify diseases and develop cures.

Cell Sorting Techniques

Scientists use cell sorting to separate therapeutic cells from non-therapeutic cells to develop treatments for diseases. Currently, there are two sorting methods: fluorescence-activated and magnetic tagging. 

 

The fluorescence-activated cell sorting method targets and separates the cells into different holding spaces. This method is slow, and the process tends to damage cells along the way, requiring you to use a large sample. Even though this method is slow, it gives scientists specific detail about each cell.

 

The process can use either single-cell sorting into 96 well plate or 384 well plates. Isolating the cells is an important part of the diagnostic portion of indexing the individual cells.

 

On the other hand, the magnetic tagging process is faster, but it can only identify two cell types with a yes or no answer. Plus, it’s not as precise as using fluorescence-activated, allowing contaminated samples, making it harder to study.

Why Cell Sorting Is Important

Cell sorting is important for studying diseases and separating stem cells, in particular, that are difficult to differentiate. Once the cells are in separate containers, scientists can categorize, study, and use them to treat disease and diagnose illness on a cellular level.

 

This degree of examination allows scientists to dive deeper into issues involving both humans and animals and pushes medicine forward in ways it hasn’t before. 

Other Essential Equipment in a Life Science Lab

When you think of a lab, you might remember chemistry or biology class in high school with large lab tables, Bunsen burners, lab coats, and goggles. And while you’ll find all of those items in a life science lab, a professional lab holds much more than that.

 

Cell sorters, test tubes, and a centrifuge are now staples in a life science lab, but they aren’t the only items you didn’t see in lab class.

 

 Here is some other equipment essential to a well-functioning modern laboratory:

 

  • Robotic enclosures
  • Low-temperature freezers
  • CO2 insulators
  • Vertical and horizontal workstations
  • Varying levels of safety cabinets
  • High-powered microscopes
  • Research areas
  • Fume Hoods

 

Life scientists are responsible for understanding genetics, preventing viruses from spreading, studying past fossils, and growing better plants. To accomplish that, they keep cutting edge equipment in their labs that change with growing technology because that’s the only way they can continue to grow. 

The Future of Life Science

With our ever-changing world, there’s a constant need for innovation in life sciences. Whether these scientists study current diseases to develop cures or examine the soil to adapt new ways of growing crops to feed the world, all life science fields are essential to humankind.

 

Without growth and adaptations in these fields, it will become increasingly difficult to keep up with our changing landscape. And because science needs to evolve with nature, inventors must do their best to bring new products to the market that will help scientists stay on top of world issues.

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