This is a guest post by Ray Liu, one of the students in our Future Science Leaders program.
As a Future Science Leaders student, you have the opportunity to go on great tours to places you wouldn’t normally be able to go. In one FSL session, we visited STEMCELL Technologies Inc, a local biotechnology company. We started our tour by looking at the laboratories. STEMCELL specializes in manufacturing and developing products for isolating, culturing and assaying stem and progenitor cells. We got to see their R&D department and learn about the process required to develop their products. One of their products uses antibodies laced with magnetic particles. These antibodies will bind to a particular type of blood cell. The cell can then be separated from the rest of the cells in a solution using a strong magnet.
After our tour of the R&D department, we had the chance to see living stem cells under the microscope. Multiple samples were shown, each at a different stage of maturity. A special characteristic of stem cells is their large nucleus to cytoplasm ratio compared to other cells. As the stem cells mature, they group together to form larger masses. Some of the stem cells have special properties that are desirable for research. STEMCELL’s products are used to grow the stem cells or differentiate them into more mature progenitor cells.
Finally, we had the chance to learn about STEMCELL’s origins and future. STEMCELL is a privately owned company that has grown to a large international company over the past 20 years. It continues to develop new and innovative products, and increase its revenue every year.
Overall, the STEMCELL tour was a great experience, exposing us to the industries that are available in the field of biology.