Effect of scaffold material and topology on cultured ventriculocytes

As a member of Emilia Entcheva's laboratory examining the effect of the supporting scaffold on the growth, differentiation, and function of cultured neonatal rat ventriculocytes, we are currently examining the expression of connexin-43, the sub-unit of gap junctions for ventricular cells, the cellular morphology, and Ca2+ transients of ventriculocytes cultured on either flat or grooved elastic polymeric scaffold and comparing the results to culture on more traditional rigid plastic substrates.

Much of our work this semester has been submitted to the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES) conference as an abstract, so until it becomes published I cannot place here the results of our research so far. However, during a rather late night one day, we had some fun in the lab with dry ice that came in a shipment. We happened to snap a few photos while fooling around, and they are shown below.

First, I attempted to make some "iced-tea" using dry ice. Drinking CO2 vapors is not as satisfying as drinking liquids.

Next, we surgically implanted some CO2 sticks into a latex glove, created from facial features on the glove, and then I tried to make some minor surgical modifications with a scalpel. Unfortunately, the surgery was a success but the patient died on the table.

To measure intra-cellular calcium concentrations (and hopefully in the near future transmembrane potentials) using an optical system, we have the following setup below. On the left is an AutoCAD rendition of the schematics of our equipment, and on the right is a picture of the actual microscope, computer, and detector.