Since my last post discussing my research, we have progressed a lot. I made a lot of progress on the panel I optimized (the dendritic cell panel), enough so that we were able to use it for the second part of a study involved in testing lung aspirates. This panel will provide new information that we previously wouldn’t have been able to know. With each antibody and each panel we are able to test the knowledge we gain is incredible. For each panel we can obtain usually 2^28 pieces of information on the cell. This number refers to the antibody being present or absent. The more knowledge we have the more in-depth analysis we can perform. This is where bioinformatics comes in. Before this summer I hadn’t realized the importance of this upcoming field and the extreme talent it takes to be able computationally analyze data in ways never done before.
The second project I discussed involved optimizing a second panel that was originally designed for cells from patients with triple negative breast cancer. In order to optimize a panel the antibodies need to be titrated. This means that we add antibodies to immune cells at different concentrations. This is done for each antibody, then the cells are run through the flow cytometer. During my time in the lab I learned how to analyze this data by going through it for different panels with my PI and other people working in the lab. Learning this was a great benefit because it enhanced my ability to interpret flow cytometry data and gave me a further understanding of the machine and how it works. This is because we want a concentration in which the positive and negative cells are separated enough to be distinguished from one another but where the “background” isn’t too high. This background refers to stray fluorescence picked up by the detectors in the machine. Optimizing panels was a large part of my work in the laboratory. I am extremely lucky I was able to participate in this because these panels are how we test for different proteins on the surface of immune cells, the panels need to be created before any actual research can really be done. The more panels we have the greater capabilities the lab will have and the more projects it will be able to participate in.