Thursday, April 8, 2010

Back when I was a chemistry professor, I put together a very popular lecture that explained the basics of cloning and amplifying a gene. It was new and hot then, scientists had just figured out how to get humanized insulin - before that they took pig pancreas from slaughterhouse and made it that way. I always got to end that lecture by telling the kids, now you have made your protein, get your $$ and take it to the bank.

Well, now everybody, even high school kids, can start with a primer (a piece of DNA that binds to your gene and says Start Here) and and make zillions of copies of any gene of interest from just about any kind of critter. So these folks at the University of Guelph have taken a bottle of Mescal, the tequila with the worm in the bottle, and amplified up the DNA of the worm from the liquor (not from the worm). If you would see that it takes us 2 hours to get a little speck of fish ready to do the amplification, this would impress you too. This would make a great change in our protocol - instead of a fancy kit and a lot of washes and fussing, just pour a shot of vodka (and maybe a shot into a glass for you - oops! no beverages in the lab please), put in your fin clip, and get the DNA from the alcohol. Woo-Hoo!

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