Friday, August 5, 2011

End of Week 5

This week wraps up the end of our research as we prepare for our presentations. After analyzing the data that we collected using IRIS we found very little binding occurred between the antigen and the antibody. Though these results did not look promising we wanted to run the chips through MALDI anyways. While MALDI had been down for the last week we we're finally able to use the technology to analyze some of our chips on Wednesday. What we found was that there was in fact binding of PSA to the antibody! This means that our experiment was a success! You can see the data that we collected from MALDI here:
The big spike near the middle of the graphs indicates the presence of a singly charged ion. In other words, it represents prostate specific antigen as PSA is known to have a mass of around 28kD. Even though there was not as much PSA present as we would have liked to see, we can still conclude that our chip was successful in both the design and the procedure of the chip. As we both know that nothing is perfect, long term goals of this research would be to improve the design of the chip to help keep the polymer layer of the chip even against the oxide. We would also like to develop a more efficient wash method so that none of the antigen is washed off, which would harm our data. Once these areas are improved we can begin testing the chips with human biological samples such as blood and urine.

Throughout our research there were many things that we had to overcome. Most of these consisted of the polymer washing off so that we could not bind antibody or the antigen washing off so that there was nothing to analyze. But there were also other issues we ran into such as dropping the chip in the waste beaker and scratching the surface of the chip with tweezers. As frustrating as these instances were, they are all part of the process. You just need to make sure that you learn from these mistakes so that you can try to prevent them in the future. Looking back over the course of the five weeks I can definitely say that Ken and my lab skills greatly improved from start to finish. We went from needing Julian's guidance to being able to run an experiment on our own. It's just like everything else...practice makes perfect!

Research is an amazing field to be a part of. Though you have to work hard and may have to put in some crazy hours it's a fun an exciting experience. You get to work with brilliant people on up and coming technology. I learned so much from participating in Boston University's Research Experience for Teachers; it was an awesome program that I will not forget!