University lab closed? Learn about ELISA assays with these virtual resources.

In my biotech virtual classes, we learned that ELISA assays use antibodies to detect and quantify proteins, but we didn’t have time to study how an ELISA assay works, nor the steps for completing one. To the internet I went and found more resources than I could need!

Here’s what I did to learn, study and commit to memory ELISA basics.

I combined a video, praxilabs.com simulation, and a few websites to get a reasonable understanding of the principles behind the various ELISA assays and the steps involved to complete them.

It turns out that there are several types of ELISA assays and which one you use depends on factors such as cost, time, and sensitivity-level required. The tests are basically broken down into direct ELISA, indirect ELISA, sandwich ELISA (direct or indirect) and competitive ELISA. The video describes each one as does numerous websites. I used the following:

BIO RAD

Cellsignal.com

Bosterbio.com

The sandwich ELISA simulation by praxilabs.com gives you a real feel for the steps you would be required to do in the real world (except that virtual world time compression makes everything faster!). I ran through it once before watching the video, but it made a whole lot more sense after watching the video and creating this free Quizlet.com flashcard set.

My steps for learning about ELISA assays:

1. Watch the ELISA video made by the Biomedical and Biological Sciences YouTube channel. I recommend taking notes to help you really pay attention to the material.

2. Complete the ELISA Sandwich simulation by Praxilabs.com. If you do not have/want a subscription you can watch the video version on YouTube.

3. Deepen and strengthen your knowledge by using these Quizlet flashcards that I made. Here I combine building assay vocabulary with learning the basic steps of most ELISA assays.

My favorite way to use Quizlet is the multiple choice option – click on “Learn”, then click on “Options”. A window will open – scroll down and uncheck the “flashcards” and “written questions” boxes. Now only “Multiple choice questions” is checked.

Diagram attribution: NickCT, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Learning Biotech in a Pandemic!

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In the fall of 2020 I began coursework in earning a biotechnology certificate from Montgomery College – a top-of-the-line program for which I am very thankful!

Unfortunately the program is 100% virtual right now, which is a tough way to learn laboratory science. My biotech posts are to share how I am supplementing my courses with a variety of online resources to prepare myself for working in a real lab, rather than a virtual one!

  1. Biotech Virtual Learning – Agarose Gel Electrophoresis
  2. Virtual Learning about Protein Electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE)

Check back for new posts!

Biotech Virtual Learning – Agarose Gel Electrophoresis

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Taking lab courses that are only VIRTUAL requires some creativity on the part of the student if you really want to prepare yourself for a job. To review agarose gel electrophoresis, I used a FREE VIRTUAL SIMULATION.

Praxilabs.com simuation guides you through the steps of separating DNA fragments by size via electrophoresis.

You begin with preparing the agarose gel by combining the gel powder with TAE buffer, heating and cooling it, and then adding a dye. I like that the activity includes setting up the electrophoresis device along with having to enter the voltage before running the experiment.

These simulations do have their challenges – absolultely no moving forward until you properly cap the bottles and discard your used pipette tips! Once you figure this out, the simulations run a lot more smoothly.

Once the device is set up, you prep the DNA samples and pipette them into the wells of the gel tray. I got stuck for a bit with the requirement to put a dark object underneath the gel to make it more visible so I had to go to the YouTube video to figure out what to do there.

The simulation ends with you using a UV Transilluminator to see the separated DNA fragments. However, the lab ends rather abruptly with only brief glimpse of the stained fragments. That was disappointing! But otherwise, I highly recommend checking it out for yourself.

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Learning Biotech in a Pandemic!

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Trying to change careers into biotechnology during a pandemic has its challenges – the biggest that my in-person lab courses are completely virtual! I found that it was really necessary for me to supplement my coursework with my own investigations into the basic laboratory techniques that I would otherwise be performing in-person if the college would allow it. I am sharing how I organized my own learning as it may be helpful to others in my situation, so I’m posting the resources I am using for each technique.

Virtual Learning about Protein Electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE)

There are a lot of videos on YouTube that probably do a great job of explaining protein electrophoresis, but I can’t watch them all and so I had to just choose (eeny-meeny-miny-moe style). I ended up using the videos of two sources for most of my lab education: YouTube channel “Biomedical and Biological Sciences” and “Bio-Rad Laboratories”. I find the videos to be well-made, completely on-topic and not too long for my attention span!

Videos:

1. The principle of SDS PAGE-a full and clear explanation of the technique and how does it work – – explains how this type of electrophoresis separates proteins by molecular weight. Explains separating and stacking gels, how to prepare the protein samples with denaturation buffers, the key role of SDS detergent and the other components of the buffer.

2. SDS-PAGE of Fish Muscle by Bio-Rad – shows all the steps for setting up the electrophoresis device and removing the gel and moving it to a staining tray.

Virtual Simulation:

Praxilabs.com – Protein Electrophoresis (Polyacrylamide Gel Electrophoresis – PAGE). This simulation is NOT free, but I purchased a one-month subscription for only $9.99 so I could do 8 different simulations.

Simulation Details: This simulation has me prepare the polyacrylamide separating and stacking gels, load the gels, fill the device with electrophoresis buffer, add loading buffer to each sample and then fill the wells with the protein standard and the four samples.

It begins with prepping the glass plates, and includes using vortex mixers and water baths, along with the electrophoresis tank and power supply.

OPTIONS:  You can see what the simulations are like in two ways: 

1. Video versions of many of their simulations are on YouTube. These are really helpful in case you get stuck on a step. I could not find one for this exact simulation, but there is one for Agarose Gel Electrophoresis.

2. The simulation for this technique is also FREE at praxilabs.com so try it out there too!