Now you know about why I’m doing all this research, but what do I actually do?
Simply put, I take some skeletal muscle cells, which are cells from the type of muscle you can move voluntarily, such as your arms or the side of your stomach, or your thighs. These cells are from ACTUAL real life humans, and I grow them in a plastic (petri) dish until they start looking like muscle would look like under the microscope. Then I add some bits of bacteria, their “tail” for example, known as flagellin, to the petri dish and look to see if the skeletal muscle cells act differently to the control cells that didn’t get anything added to their petri dish. So the cell behaviour that I’m trying to see whether is different or not, is how the cells respond to energy.
So I give them either radioactively labelled glucose (sugar) or oleic acid (fat) and measure how much energy the cells “eat” and how much they use. I then measure the amount of radioactivity in the liquid I give the cells (the media), I explode (lyse) the cells to measure how much radioactivity is inside them and I trap the CO2 they breathe out in a filter and measure that as well. This generates a vast amount of numbers that I run statistical analysis on to see if there are any differences.
Now, all these numbers make up my current conundrum. I’m now (hopefully) close to finishing what is to (again hopefully) become my first research article. And once I do, you’ll sure be the first to know. Actually, the champagne selling people will be, but you’ll be a close second.
Also, I understand that all the experimental aspects may be a bit confusing, so I’ll be starting a series of “How do I” posts. Because it really isn’t as hard as you might think, it just has to be done carefully and attentively. Cause you know.. Science if for everyone 😉
All the best,