‘Cellfie’ of the month: December 2016

Up until now all the embryonic stem cell colonies I have shown you as part of my ‘Cellfie’ series have been beautiful, nice looking colonies with happy and pluripotent stem cells.

That is about to change!

So you’ve seen the good, now for the bad and the ugly!


As part of my research I have to take hundreds of images and show that the drugs and chemicals I put on to my embryonic stem cells don’t kill them off or stop them growing. Or simply just to keep record of what my cells looked like in each experiment I do.

A lot of my research looks at the metabolism of embryonic stem cells – which involves looking at all the chemical reactions they use to keep themselves alive. I’m particularly interested in the particular chemical reactions in a process called glycolysis. Glycolysis is a metabolic pathway that embryonic stem cells rely heavily on to generate all the energy they need to keep growing and replicating.

So as a part of this month’s ‘Cellfie of the month’ I thought I would show you an example of what my stem cell colonies look like when they are not happy (which happens far too often for my liking!).

As I mentioned my embryonic stem cells rely heavily on the process called glycolysis! But I sometimes add a drug called a glycolytic inhibitor which as the name suggests stops the action of glycolysis in my cells so I can investigate the effects on my proteins of interest.

In this particular experiment I put a range of different concentrations of my glycolytic inhibitor on my cells to see which concentration was too high for my cells and started to kill them off!

This is another phase contrast image, like I showed in my last ‘Cellfie’ post, of my cells that had been treated with the highest concentration of my drug that I tried and if you compared to the image in my last ‘Cellfie’ – you can clearly see that this drug at this concentration is toxic to my cells and killing them off as this colony is really ‘patchy’ and you can see remnants of the colony.

Because this image has shown that this concentration of drug is killing of my cells, it means I cannot confidently say that any effect I might see on my protein of interest is true because the cells are unhappy and dying 🙁


Thanks to everyone who has read and liked my ‘Cellfie’ posts and hope you have learnt something from behind the scenes of my PhD lab life. I also love answering all your questions about my research and blog posts – so please continue to ask away! Hopefully that will continue into 2017 with plenty more ‘Cellfie’ posts!



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