Category Archives: Issue 15 October 19

Datesand Take On Denver

AALAS 2019


This year’s annual AALAS meeting was held in Denver, Colorado. With interest in our products over in the US ever increasing, this was another great opportunity for us to showcase our products to our distributors, and to spread the word to those working in facilities who are still new to us.

Jonathon, Nicky & Kieren all headed off to represent Datesand at the 2019 conference and what a fantastic job they did!

Kieren recounts their time…

“We set off from Manchester on Friday morning following a short delay and after a couple of hours in Atlanta for our connecting flight, we finally arrived in Denver late Friday night.

As always, the team back in the office did a great job in preparing the stand and all the samples, meaning we were fully equipped to set up on arrival. We made the short walk from our hotel to the convention centre, and in a few short hours the booth was looking immaculate! A well-earned lunch and a few hours to explore the city took us through to the evening.

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Our Sunday began with a positive breakfast meeting with our distributors in Australia and New Zealand, Allied, in our hotel. Having set up the stand on Saturday we now had the day to ourselves, so we made a snap decision to hire a car and head out of the city.

Nicky bravely took the wheel of what could only be described as a small tank, and in the baking sunshine we drove up to Red Rocks Park, where we took in the spectacular views of the Red Rocks Amphitheatre and Denver on the horizon.


The conference began on Monday morning, and soon enough the booth was buzzing with visitors. Many were there to get a closer look at the Rat Scratcher they had seen advertised – we gave away all 500 samples over the course of the week! We were also joined on the booth by colleagues from our US distributors, which inevitably brought more people to the stand on each day.

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The evening saw us at our first distributor social event of the week, organised by Lab Supply at Punch Bowl Social. With an impressive buffet and free arcade-style games all night, there was something for everybody to enjoy. A titanic table tennis battle between Jonathon and Kieren was just one of many enjoyable moments that night!

Tuesday was an early start as we attended a breakfast social event hosted by our distributors Animal Specialties and Provision and W.F. Fisher at 7am. We were joined by Sarah Taylor, designer of the Rat Scratcher and winner of the 2019 Janet Wood Innovation Award who got the opportunity to showcase her winning product after choosing AALAS for her all-expenses-paid winning trip!


We were busy on the stand in the morning – the visitors steadily flowed, and we had visits from some of our distributors in Japan and Korea which was a great opportunity to advertise our new products and the interest they attract.

Our destination for the evening was Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. for the social event hosted by NEWCO – raffle prizes were arranged for all customers who attended, and we had the familiar feeling of leaving with our stomachs full.

Wednesday was a shorter (but just as busy) day on the stand, and with trade finishing early afternoon we headed over to the AAALAC International Lunch. Following this, all three of us were invited to attend the AALAS President’s social event in the early evening – prestigious company to be in!

On our final evening in Denver, we took the opportunity to all go out for dinner as a group at Maggiano’s – with everyone having such busy schedules across the week, it was great to get a few hours back together and reflect on each of our experiences.

We checked out early on Tuesday morning and said our goodbyes to the rest of the group as we left for the airport. We left the US satisfied that we had another successful trip across the pond, after several invaluable meetings with our distributors and customers.

Overall, this year’s AALAS will be remembered for all of the great enthusiasm towards all our Janet Wood Innovation Award products, a number of beneficial meetings with our distributors and suppliers, and late-night scooter travel across the city!

A Hard-Working Fellow

Datesand would like to wish John Waters of the University of Liverpool a huge congratulations for receiving an AAALAC International Fellowship Award!

On the 16th October, during the AAALAC International Luncheon at AALAS, Jonathon Wood presented John with this much deserved award.


As a Chief Animal Care & Welfare Officer, John has been successfully promoting a “Culture of Care” for laboratory animals and wild species within his facility and has conducted exceptional research within areas of chemical communication, reproductive strategies and animal welfare.

Datesand have worked closely with John and the University of Liverpool for improving vital research and development and promoting animal welfare through effective products.

Datesand would once again like to congratulate John on his success and wish him all the best for a bright future.

The Perfect Balance of Enrichment and Exercise

October saw the introduction of the latest Datesand product, once again following the Janet Wood Innovation Award 2019.

The C-Saw, designed by Pete Willan, is an enrichment device based on the original ‘see-saw’ design. This versatile product provides variable exercise by allowing small rodents to utilise their ability to climb and drop and re-enact this on a repetitive basis, as well as helping to increase sensory balance awareness.

It has also been designed to fit perfectly with a standard disposable play tunnel, so it essentially offers two enrichment devices in one! In combining the two products, cage space is saved significantly, additional shelter is introduced, and animal wellbeing is improved.

This easy slide-on device is completely reusable – as it is made from certified hard-wearing, non-toxic nylon, it can be autoclaved.

This is just the latest product Datesand have introduced following the annual Janet Wood Innovation Award.

You can find out all you need to know about the C-Saw and order your FREE sample here.

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Since the competition began in 2016, we have also seen the release of:


Could you design a product that makes a difference in the Life Sciences industry?

The Janet Wood Innovation Award 2020 is now open and remains so until February 1st 2020. Download your application pack now to get started:

Taking Time to Care

Throughout September, Karen took some time to work with a cause she cares deeply about.

AgeUK offers information, advice and health care and wellbeing assistance to older people not just throughout the UK but also in some of the poorest countries around the world. They also run campaigns and conduct research to help improve lives of older people while offering community support to those who need it most.


We asked Karen about her time with her local AgeUK charity…

“For a while I have been wanting to volunteer for AgeUK Salford for selfish reasons really. I had no grandparents growing up as they sadly passed away before I was born, so I don’t have any memories of them. 

I applied in 2017 to volunteer with AgeUK Salford but unfortunately, I was not able to proceed with my application with them as I found out I was pregnant.

Following a 1-2-1 in November 2018 with Jonathon, we discussed life plans/goals in both work and personal life for 2019. 

Reapplying to volunteer for AgeUK Salford was on my ‘To Achieve’ list this year, the process began in June and I did an odd day or two as a volunteer for Chatter and Coffee morning at Critchley Café in Swinton. 

At the end of August, I decided to use my remaining annual leave to volunteer on Fridays at the café. During this time we have received funding and approval for the café to be opened on Saturday where Chatter and Coffee Morning will take place and the AgeUK Salford Rep approached me to be one of the leads for this. 

I have thoroughly enjoyed my volunteering; I have met some very interesting people and I cannot wait to continue to do this as it’s definitely good for the soul and I will be taking my daughter along with me every week that I have her!”


If you’d like to find out more about AgeUK and what you can do to help, there is more information here.

Researchers Develop New Way to 3D Print Living Skin with Blood Vessels

Reviewed by Kate Anderton, B.Sc. (Editor) – News Medical

Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have developed a way to 3D print living skin, complete with blood vessels. The advancement, published online today in Tissue Engineering Part A, is a significant step toward creating grafts that are more like the skin our bodies produce naturally.

“Right now, whatever is available as a clinical product is more like a fancy Band-Aid,” said Pankaj Karande, an associate professor of chemical and biological engineering and member of the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies (CBIS), who led this research at Rensselaer. “It provides some accelerated wound healing, but eventually it just falls off; it never really integrates with the host cells.”

A significant barrier to that integration has been the absence of a functioning vascular system in the skin grafts.

Karande has been working on this challenge for several years, previously publishing one of the first papers showing that researchers could take two types of living human cells, make them into “bio-inks,” and print them into a skin-like structure. Since then, he and his team have been working with researchers from Yale School of Medicine to incorporate vasculature.

In this paper, the researchers show that if they add key elements – including human endothelial cells, which line the inside of blood vessels, and human pericyte cells, which wrap around the endothelial cells — with animal collagen and other structural cells typically found in a skin graft, the cells start communicating and forming a biologically relevant vascular structure within the span of a few weeks. You can watch Karande explain this development here.

“As engineers working to recreate biology, we’ve always appreciated and been aware of the fact that biology is far more complex than the simple systems we make in the lab. We were pleasantly surprised to find that, once we start approaching that complexity, biology takes over and starts getting closer and closer to what exists in nature.” – Pankaj Karande, associate professor of chemical and biological engineering, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Once the Yale team grafted it onto a special type of mouse, the vessels from the skin printed by the Rensselaer team began to communicate and connect with the mouse’s own vessels.

“That’s extremely important, because we know there is actually a transfer of blood and nutrients to the graft which is keeping the graft alive,” Karande said.

In order to make this usable at a clinical level, researchers need to be able to edit the donor cells using something like the CRISPR technology, so that the vessels can integrate and be accepted by the patient’s body.

“We are still not at that step, but we are one step closer,” Karande said.

“This significant development highlights the vast potential of 3D bioprinting in precision medicine, where solutions can be tailored to specific situations and eventually to individuals,” said Deepak Vashishth, the director CBIS. “This is a perfect example of how engineers at Rensselaer are solving challenges related to human health.”

Karande said more work will need to be done to address the challenges associated with burn patients, which include the loss of nerve and vascular endings. But the grafts his team has created bring researchers closer to helping people with more discrete issues, like diabetic or pressure ulcers.

“For those patients, these would be perfect, because ulcers usually appear at distinct locations on the body and can be addressed with smaller pieces of skin,” Karande said. “Wound healing typically takes longer in diabetic patients, and this could also help to accelerate that process.”