Let's talk about lab water
Let's talk about lab water
Our blog series continues with the second installment today, as we look at how modern high sensitivity experiments are driving scientific discovery forward. At this level of sensitivity, the sophistication of the detection technology starts to become less of a limiting factor.
Instead, the danger is that contaminants in the reagents you are using will confuse your datasets, or even worse, blind you from detecting your target of interest entirely. And that’s where ultra-pure water comes in…
Ultra-sensitive analytics that rely on ultra-pure water are fuelling cutting-edge science
Some of the most interesting science being carried out at the moment pushes the boundaries of analytical sensitivity. Techniques such as inductively-coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS), thermal ionization mass spectrometry (TIMS) and ICP atomic emission spectrometry (ICP-AES) allow researchers to explore biological and chemical systems in more detail and at greater resolution than ever before, including being able to detect the presence of chemicals and factors at trace (<100 ppm) and ultra-trace (<1 ppm) concentrations.
As an example, such sensitivity allows us to detect low expression biomarkers so that we can better diagnose and treat patients, helping to turn the promise of personalized medicine into a reality. High sensitivity analysis is also highly useful when working with environmental samples, so that researchers can better track global climate and environmental change.
In order to achieve ultra-sensitivity, pure water is essential. It provides you with more control over the type of substances dissolved and the exact concentration of your solute, leading to higher experimental reproducibility. After all, you wouldn’t put the wrong fuel into your sports car and expect the desired result either.
Most molecular biology also relies on assay sensitivity to produce reproducible and reliable results. For example, the generation of DNA and RNA sequencing data can often be challenging, with double sequence readout, failed sequencing reactions and large dye blobs in the sequence being more common than you might imagine. Many of these types of errors are characteristic of sample contamination and/or a poor water quality, as excess salts and contaminants can greatly hinder your ability to obtain good quality sequence data.
As you can see, contamination can be a real confounding factor in many experimental procedures, especially those relying on high detection sensitivity. In the next installment, we take a look at how science moves along incrementally – adding one small experiment on top of another – and why focussing on these baby steps is so important for realizing your larger research goals.
Did you miss Part 1 of this blog series? Don’t worry, you can find it here.