Datesand News

The Datesand battle for fitness continues…

fit-bit-compIn the continuing campaign to get fit which has been raging at Datesand now for many months (years!), technology has been brought into play at long last and a certain degree of rivalry seems to have come along with it…

Our Accounts Assistant Linsey is in the thick of it!

Linsey writes: There’s nothing wrong with a little healthy competition, or so we’re told. So when it comes to varying levels of fitness (and enthusiasm for a workout) there seems to be a bit of a Fitbit War in the office these days, with Nicky, Amanda, Helen, Linsey, Rebecca and Juliana taking part most weeks. As expected, this requires some gentle encouragement at times as well as occasional threats of bodily harm, but it’s all in the name of fun. Unfortunately, some weeks tend to get a little quiet when certain people forget to charge their watches – we’re told, of course, that this is purely ‘accidental’.

The Mystery of Prions

More Than 30 Years Since Their Discovery, Prions Still fascinate, terrify and mystify us

Figuring out what they were was just the beginning of a field of research into prions and prion diseases that’s still growing

By Kat Eschner
October 6, 2017


Prions–the name comes from “proteinaceous infectious particle”–were big news in the 1980s, when it became clear that these proteins caused disease. But more than 30 years after they were discovered, we’re still figuring them out.

On October 6th in 1997, American biologist Stanley B. Prusiner received the Nobel Prize in medicine for his discovery of prions, “an entirely new genre of disease-causing agents,” in the words of the Nobel committee. But even though Prusiner’s work started in 1972, by 2017 we still only sort of understand prions.

You’ve probably heard of these infectious proteins in the context of brain diseases like mad cow disease (technical name: bovine spongiform encephalopathy). Humans can also get prion diseases, such as Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease and the rare Kuru, which was transmitted by the Fore people’s custom of eating their deceased as part of funerary rituals. These diseases, which are collectively known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies, are only the best-understood part of the prion picture.

“Prions are distorted versions of normal proteins found in human and animal brain and other tissues,” explains Colorado State University’s Prion Research Center. “These distorted (‘misfolded’) proteins damage brain cells, leading to fatal dementias akin to human Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.”

When normal proteins in your brain–for some reason that’s not fully understood–misfold, “they turn into contagious pathogens that recruit any other prions they come into contact with, grouping together in clumps that damage other cells and eventually cause the brain itself to break down,” writes Fiona MacDonald for ScienceAlert.

“…Technically speaking, proteins shouldn’t be able to infect other proteins–they’re not alive, after all–and scientists have never really been able to explain the behaviour of prions–hence their reputation as the weirdest molecules ever,”  she writes.

Not only are prions not alive (and contain no DNA), they can survive being boiled, being treated with disinfectants, and can still infect other brains years after they were transferred to a scalpel or other tool.

We’re still trying to figure out how normal proteins fold into prions and what causes them to do so, although there have been a number of advances in recent years. Among them, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s have recently been linked to prions. Scientists have suggested that these brain diseases are caused by similar protein folding and it has been suggested that they should be called “prionoid” diseases–similiar to TSEs, but not transmissible (that we know of.)

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Product Focus – Tunnel Clip

A new product from Datesand

A simple design made from durable plastic that allows
technicians to suspend a play tunnel from the wire lid of most cages.











julianaJuliana Mckie

Customer Service &  Logistics Advisor

I have been with Datesand a year, and that year has flown by so quickly! I am a Customer Service and Logistics Advisor with a focus on our International Customers. This is the perfect role for me, as I love to travel, and have made friends and contacts from all over the world.

I have been in the UK for 10 years now. I came over the pond to study Archaeology at the University of Leicester in 2007, and met my now husband on the first day of class. We have been married for 4 years. After getting my Masters in Archaeology from the University of Reading, I decided that though I have a passion for history, I also have a passion for administration and logistics, so really focused on following that career path. I cannot imagine doing anything else now and am happy I have been able to follow my dreams, even if they did change along the way.
I grew up in Florida and Kansas, so I try to stay connected to my US roots wherever possible. Which often means inflicting US holidays on my colleagues here at Datesand. Whether it is bringing in a pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving or going out for burgers and barbecue on the 4th of July, I love to share the warmth and enthusiasm of these holidays with others.
I have lived in Manchester for a year and it is such a fantastic city and community. Lately, my husband and I have been exploring the Lake and Peak Districts and we love nothing more than taking long and adventurous walks on the weekends. Next summer, I will be filling in the hundreds of forms to become a dual citizen with both the UK and the US.

bio1 bio3 bio2








Just for fun:

Which everyday stationery item helped to bring the joint Nobel prize for Physics to Manchester University in 2010?



Scotch sticky tape

(Two emigré Russian scientists working at the university managed to use sticky tape to peel off thinner and thinner layers of carbon until they got down to a flake just one atom thick. The new material was named graphene and is one of the most unique and potentially useful materials ever developed.)

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Sadly, there aren’t very many of these amazing creatures left on the planet. Can you name the animal and do you know exactly where it lives?








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Chemo-Boosting Drug Discovered for Leukemia

Acute myeloid leukemia (AML)


chemo-boosting-drug-discoveredResearchers have discovered that the most common form of acute leukemia which strikes adults, acute myeloid leukemia (AML), prevents chemotherapy from being delivered properly by causing bone marrow to leak blood. This means that, by using drugs developed to treat blood vessel and heart problems in concert with chemotherapy, AML might be much more treatable. In this study, these drugs reversed bone marrow leaks in tissue from mice and humans, and also boosted chemotherapy effects. Since these drugs are already in clinical trials for other applications, the team hopes that they may be approved for use in the treatment of AML patients soon.

“We found that the cancer was damaging the walls of blood vessels responsible for delivering oxygen, nutrients, and chemotherapy. When we used drugs to stop the leaks in mice, we were able to kill the cancer using conventional chemotherapy,” Diana Passaro, Francis Crick Institute researcher and first author of the paper, said in a press release.

The team studied the ways in which AML affects bone marrow by injecting healthy mice with bone marrow from AML patients to create AML mice. They then used intravital microscopy to compare the bone marrow of AML mice with healthy mice and observed pre-loaded fluorescent dyes leaking from the bone marrow blood vessels into the AML mice. Next, they discovered that the cells lining the blood vessels in AML mice were oxygen-starved, which led to increases in nitric oxide (NO), a muscle relaxant. They realized this was probably causing the leaking, and provided NO blockers to the AML mice which slowed leukemia progress and extended remission.

Bringing cultures together with a mutual love of music.

Four years ago, a small group of friends all with a passion for music formed a band, ProZero,

Over the years ProZero played at some great local venues with some fantastic musicians and gathered a substantial following of Polish fans, before changing their name to CorAdCor.

Just over a year ago CorAdCor invited female vocalist Claire to join them bringing an English flare to the mix.

This year CorAdCor branched out into the English community with the Rec’d all day festival in Widnes and set out to Poland to play the immensely popular Woodstock Festival alongside some talented and well known artist, and hope to return to both in 2018.

After launching a successful Pure Rock Festival in the Polish community last year, CorAdCor plan to launch Pure Rock Festival 2, in association with local production company, Soup Productions to the English music scene in Widnes at The Studio, 5 Lacey St, Widnes WA8 7SQ, on 21st October 2017.

The band hopes this is the beginning of a successful career in both English and Polish communities, bringing the two cultures together with one mutual love….Music.











CorAdCor is a 5 piece band with fusion rock stylings.
Sebastian Fortuna, Claire Williams, Robert Macuda, Grzegorz ‘Gregory’ & Mariusz Kremski


Transpharmation happy, animals happy, Datesand happy!

transpharmationIn last month’s Spotlight we were pleased to report a swift and successful outcome to a time-sensitive project we’d taken on Transpharmation. They were very pleased with the device that resulted and said they’d let us have some feedback. True to their word as always, here are their thoughts (rather positive) on the process.

‘Transpharmation is a pre-clinical CRO specialising in translational pharmacology models which help our clients (leading pharmaceutical companies) transition their compounds through to the clinic. Datesand came recommended as a company that would be able to build a bespoke rodent observation chamber for us. This chamber is used to comfortably enclose the animal whilst the behaviours (stimulated responses) are recorded remotely by an observer. We needed this observation chamber tailor made at very short notice. Datesand could accommodate all our requirements and with a very short lead time. The lab device is exactly what we had hoped for, if not better. The quality of the service we received from the Datesand group was outstanding and could not be faulted. We will be using Datesand again for future laboratory devices.’

GV-Solas – Germany’s Congress

zoonlab-1GV-Solas is Germany’s equivalent to our IAT Meeting and takes place annually, in September, in one of the many German cities with links to animal laboratory science. This year’s meeting took place a few days ago in Cologne. Naturally enough, Nicky was there to support our fantastic German distributors Zoonlab.

Nicky describes her flying visit

‘On a stormy Monday I headed over to Cologne to join our distribution partners, Zoonlab, at their national conference GV-Solas.  This is the German equivalent meeting to IAT Congress and is held over 3 days.  After a fairly hairy flight on a very small plane I landed in Dusseldorf and picked up a hire car for the short drive to Cologne. I arrive just in time to head out and meet a few British colleagues for a quick beer before heading back to the hotel to get ready for the next day.

zoonlab-3On Tuesday the exhibition opened bright and early at 8am and I was greeted at the Zoonlab booth by their new MD Theodor Feldman.  The stand was impressive and stood out in the hall of 83 exhibiting companies.  They were showcasing their caging and equipment ranges along with our enrichment which they offer into the German market.  They were most impressed with the new polycarbonate enrichment items and I was also pleased to be able to show them the JWI Award Winner – Mouse Swings.   Samples of Mouse Swings were quickly installed in the cage set-ups and drew lots of attention from Zoonlab sales staff and delegates alike.

Mr Feldman and I attended a couple of papers (to test my German!) about enrichment reducing aggression in group-housed mice and also one about bedding depth and thermoregulation.  In summary, enrichment does indeed reduce aggression and deeper bedding provides a warmer home for mice who then eat less as a result.

Late on Tuesday afternoon I said my goodbyes and headed to Cologne airport for my flight home (which was delayed and my case was lost but that’s another story!).  A really good trip and great to be able to support one of our excellent European Distributors at their national meeting.’


AS-ET Graduation – Hats off to the students

grad-2Hot on the heels of returning from GV-Solas, I hopped on a train to London to be a guest at the AS-ET Graduation Ceremony.  For those of you reading who are not familiar with AS-ET, it is Animals in Science Education Trust, a charity set up to support education within animal science.  AS-ET has distributed, or is committed to distribute, nearly £100,000 in grants to support education and welfare activities. The bulk of the grants are in the form of bursaries to enable individuals to attend courses to improve their own knowledgrad-3ge and skills. These courses range from specialist short courses  to long formal courses such as those leading to the IAT further and higher education qualifications.

Datesand are a long-term supporter of AS-ET and I also sit on their fundraising committee.  It was an honour to be invited to see this year’s further and higher education students graduate in the surroundings of UCL’s London School of Pharmacy. In 2017 there were 12 Diploma Level 4, 7 diploma Level 5, 2 Diploma Level 6 and 6 Middlesex University BSc Professional Practice in Laboratory Science graduates. Congratulations to all of the students who worked so hard!

The graduation ceremony was attended by Ken Applebee, CEO and Chair of IAT Council, and was addressed by the Guest of Honour Robin Lovell-Badge FRS FMedSci.  After the presentation of the certificates there was a break in the rain long enough for photos on the lawn followed by a dash back inside for a glass of fizz and a sandwich.

It was soon time for a dash through the torrential rain back to the station for the train journey home.