Screening ACVR1 inhibitors on mutant and non-mutant ACVR1 DIPG cells – effectiveness may vary

Hi there! The last month of my life was taken over by making sure my PhD first year report was beautifully polished, but I have returned with results of a small compound screen: These are all compounds that Jong Fu has already tested with his assays so we know they effectively inhibit ACVR1, but I Read More …

Presenting a poster at the annual Medical Sciences Division DPhil Day

Every summer my department holds a special mini-conference for the DPhil (aka PhD) students so that we can get to know each other and practice presenting our research. This year I took along a poster outlining my own project – Understanding the pathogenic mechanism of ACVR1 mutations in Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma – and presented Read More …

Optimising an assay to detect alkaline phosphatase activity in C2C12 cells

I don’t just want to check whether the compounds I’m testing kill DIPG cells, I want to check that they’re doing this by altering BMP signalling too. However, I can’t do this with the DIPG cells, because if a compound does work, and kill them, there’ll be no cell left to actually measure the amount Read More …

Attending the first ever CRUK London Brain Tumour Conference

Hello there! This week I won’t be filling you in on my latest experiment, because instead I spent three days at the first ever Cancer Research UK Brain Tumour Conference held in the Royal Society of Medicine in London! (Also the biggest conference I’ve been to so far). The conference gathered over 30 great speakers Read More …

Making single DIPG spheres

It’s usually a good idea to have more than one trick up your sleeve… So with that in mind, I’ve started developing another viability assay for my DIPG cell lines. The first assay relied on convincing a cell line that naturally grows as floating spheres to grow stuck down on the bottom of plastic wells, Read More …

Developing an assay of viability in DIPG cell lines

Over the past few weeks I’ve been perfecting a method for screening a small set of therapeutic compounds on DIPG cell lines. Before starting I made sure to discuss the techniques used in other groups to make sure that I design an assay that is comparable to theirs, although I may make my own changes Read More …

Recording the growth of a DIPG cell line

Repeatability is a cornerstone of science, but cells behaviour can change quite significantly if you aren’t careful when looking after them. To ensure that I have the right number of DIPG cells to complete an important experiment, and that they’re all growing healthily, I want to record how fast they grow, and at what density Read More …

Optimising transfection of the C2C12 myoblast cell line

Within a month (hopefully) I’ll be convincing C2C12 myoblast cells to express all kinds of mutant ALK2 to test its activity and interactions with other proteins within the cell. I’ll be doing this by treating them so that they’ll take up pieces of circular DNA (plasmids) that express those mutant proteins (i.e. transfecting them). Seeing Read More …

Project overview: Understanding the pathogenic mechanism of ACVR1/ALK2 mutations

Hello world! I think I should let you know about the two diseases my project covers before we get started:  Firstly, diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG for short) is a childhood brain tumour that grows in a part of the brainstem called the pons. The disease progresses rapidly and the fact that it grows within the brainstem, and invades into nearby Read More …