In December our lab in Glasgow played host to a visit from some intrepid members of the CDKL5 UK team looking to brave a Scottish winter. In truth it was quite a mild day and our University buildings were looking quite grand with their Christmas lights on. For everyone visiting it was their first time in a research laboratory. My CDKL5 UK funded project involves a lot of molecular biology, which is carried out on an extremely small scale. There are lots of small tubes filled with colourless liquid on my lab bench which don’t look particularly exciting. However, all these tubes contain important pieces of DNA or RNA that allow me to investigate CDKL5. I could show everyone a few of the ways we are able to visualise the DNA by using gels, chemicals, UV light and cameras. We have some world-class facilities here at Glasgow University and lots of specialist equipment to help me do my work.
We also use cells for our research and we have a dedicated tissue culture room in which to do these experiments. Everyone got a chance to see what the cells looked like down a microscope! We use various types of cells including neurons (important brain cells for CDKL5). They are an incredibly useful tool for us in the lab and allow us to do a lot of tests in a controlled environment that would otherwise be very difficult to do. There’s a fantastic BBC documentary by Adam Curtis which tells the story about Henrietta Lacks and how her HeLa cells opened the door for researchers to start using cells in the lab (link).
I was really pleased that Megan made it along for the day with her family. Girls like Megan are inspirational for us scientists, and the reason we go into the lab every day to work on developing a treatment. If any family or CDKL5 UK supporter finds themselves in Glasgow and wants to see where their fundraising money goes, let me know and come visit our lab!
Written by Dr Ralph Hector.