good things: peeling fava beans for stress relief (and dinner), strong tea from a samovar, getting my fc gamma receptor paper fake-published, reading fairy tales and magical realism, finally convincing picky adherent cells to grow in long-term suspension culture
Brass qibla compasses, used to establish the direction one should turn towards during prayers (i.e. towards Mecca), Iran, c.1800-1875 (source)
I’m getting ready to repackage lentivirus particles with some Fc gamma receptor genes, so I thawed out a vial of HEK 293T cells (kidney epithelial cells, pictured) this week. HEK 293T cells are easy to transfect (basically, to introduce “foreign” or exogenous DNA into the cell) because they’ve been modified to express a temperature sensitive version of the SV40 T antigen. This allows the cell to replicate any DNA that has the SV40 origin of replication, such as many mammalian expression plasmids, without actually integrating the DNA into the cellular genome.
These are HEC-1B cells, a sub-strain of HEC-1A cells, which were derived from a woman with late stage endometrial cancer in 1968. I’m going to start working with HEC-1A cells soon, since they apparently grow faster than T84 cells. After almost five months, we still haven’t managed to establish stably transduced cells that are 100% monoclonal for the F and V alleles of CD16 in the T84 cells, which is disheartening (but partly due to the fact that they don’t grow at low densities, which makes single cell cloning by limiting dilution basically impossible).
Y.Z. Kami, Untitled, from the Endless Prayers series, 2009 *
The works in the Endless Prayers series are described as being “made by gluing countless minute brick-shaped cut-outs from poetry and prayer texts on to the canvas in circular arrangements or according to some Islamic architectural detailing of domes. The spiraling patterns are inspired by the whirling motions in the rituals of dervishes found in the Mevlevi order of Sufism […]” (via)
Mohammad Reza Shajarian — Surah Qasas (this recitation apparently skips verses 1-4)
To read soon: Twice Dead by Margaret Lock, which is described as follows:
“Tales about organ transplants appear in mythology and folk stories, and surface in documents from medieval times, but only during the past twenty years has medical knowledge and technology been sufficiently advanced for surgeons to perform thousands of transplants each year. In the majority of cases individuals diagnosed as “brain dead” are the source of the organs without which transplants could not take place. In this compelling and provocative examination, Margaret Lock traces the discourse over the past thirty years that contributed to the locating of a new criterion of death in the brain, and its routinization in clinical practice in North America. She compares this situation with that in Japan where, despite the availability of the necessary technology and expertise, brain death was legally recognized only in 1997, and then under limited and contested circumstances. Twice Dead explores the cultural, historical, political, and clinical reasons for the ready acceptance of the new criterion of death in North America and its rejection, until recently, in Japan, with the result that organ transplantation has been severely restricted in that country. This incisive and timely discussion demonstrates that death is not self-evident, that the space between life and death is historically and culturally constructed, fluid, multiple, and open to dispute […] By showing that death can never be understood merely as a biological event, and that cultural, medical, legal, and political dimensions are inevitably implicated in the invention of brain death, Twice Dead confronts one of the most troubling questions of our era.” (source)