Wednesday, December 07, 2005

One man's garbage is another man's gold ...

It's strange how within the Biological community different fields of research have different views.

I just completed experiments where I've inhibited a cellular process by microinjecting (into cells) antibodies raised against a key molecular component. To researchers that study the cytoskeleton, such antibody injection experiments are routine. However, in the "RNA field" such experiments are taboo. One collaborator (from an RNA lab) claimed that my experiment was the equivalent of injecting phenol into cells.

My graduate training was from a lab that specialized in studying microtubules, a component of the cytoskeleton, and as a postdoc I now am studying mRNA. Funny thing is that in the cytoskeletal fields, microinjection experiments are much more common. Antibody injections have been performed for decades. No one has ever reported any adverse effects of the antibodies. Infact it is common practice to mix non-specific antibodies with an active protein and inject the mixture into cells. The injected cells can then be identified by performing immunofluorescence against the injected antibody.

But would those in the RNA field trust decades of standard practice? This is a prime example of how different biological fields are totally oblivious to what is standard in other biological fields. I guess it's a side-effect of such divergent areas of research within biology.