Two compounds ubiquitously present in disposable linkurl:lab plastics; -- from test tubes and pipette tips to 96-well plates-- may be wreaking havoc on biomedical experiments, a study in Science reports this week. The study provides "clear evidence of these compounds leaching out of plastics," said linkurl:Andrew Holt,; a pharmacologist at the University of Alberta, Canada and main author. The compounds affect the activity of receptors, enzymes and ion channels -- "three main types of molecules responsible for controlling virtually everything in the body." Holt identified the two troublesome compounds linkurl:the hard way; -- when they messed up his own experiments. His group studies linkurl:monoamine oxidase; (MAO) B, an enzyme that regulates the neurotransmitter dopamine and is a potential target for Parkinson's disease treatment. The group was testing a drug inhibitor of MAO-B, but were getting inconsistent results. Often, they'd see strong inhibition of MAO-B at drug concentrations they knew were...
Editor's note (November 7): A previous version of this article erroneously mentioned 92-well plates when meaning 96-well plates. The Scientist regrets the error.

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to more than 35 years of archives, as well as TS Digest, digital editions of The Scientist, feature stories, and much more!
Already a member?