We're now basically halfway through the summer basic science module, and I'm getting ready to start a new type of experiment in the lab. So far I've mostly been learning molecular biology techniques and doing simple but necessary things like preparing buffers. I've learned to run a gel and do a Western blot, which I thought was really neat the first time I did it because we had read about these techniques in class. I didn't think it was nearly as neat the second time after the novelty of it had worn off though! On the bright side, I've gotten pretty good at loading and running the gels now. The first time I did it, it took me a few tries before I figured out how to get the samples into the wells where I wanted them to be. Everything is very small scale.
The new experiment is going to be something entirely different that doesn't involve gels or Coomassie stains or antibodies against antibodies against the protein. I've got a ton of reading to do about it this weekend. What I'm going to be doing is studying how a protein binds to its ligand, and the tricky part is figuring out how to quantify the amount of ligand that binds. We're still working on coming up with a reliable way to do that. No one has ever made this measurement for this protein, so if we can get this experiment to work, we will actually be contributing something new and useful to the larger projects going on in the lab.