Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The sweet sweet smell of lab work

I'll be honest. I really can't think of anything to write about, but it's either blog some random crap or watch "Barney and Friends" with my little boy. You can guess which I decided to do. Don't worry if I suddenly break out into song and dance while I'm writing/you're reading this. Barney is playing in the background. When Exactly did Barney become "and friends"? Did they not think Barney was a big enough freak? Did they really have to add three more little dinosaur freaks? Oh well.

I was thinking the other day that there are a lot of odd smells in the lab, not all of them bad either. If you walk into the micro lab the first and only thing you'll smell is a pungent odor similar to that of old wet gym socks that have been in your gym bag for roughly the last quarter century. But there are actually a few pleasant smells.

Way back in the day, honestly I don't know how far back, physicians would test the urine of a suspected diabetic by dipping his finger in and touching it to his tongue. If it tasted sweet, They were diabetic. Until the 1930's diabetes was a sure death sentence until a physician basically started to grind up pancreas from normal Dogs and inject it into his patients. He didn't understand what it was doing and it only prolonged life for a short time but in essence he had found the first form of insulin therapy. A sweet, fruity odor from urine is still a pretty good clue for a lab tech as to whether someone has diabetes. I guess it's a little weird to think we just go around sniffing all the piss that comes into the lab. The causative agent is acetone in your urine, which is a symptom of diabetes and ketosis.

The next one is even stranger. Pseudomonas aeruginosa emits a "grape-like" odor when grown on sheep's blood agar. Unfortunately I don't know what chemical it produces to make the odor but I do know it's a good presumptive identification. Pseudomonas aeruginosa usually only invades the body of immuno-comprimised individuals, but is unique in it's ability to be pathogenic to both Humans and plants. It has minimal nutritional requirments and can be seen growing in distilled water. It even has resistance to many simple antibiotics.

I know this post is really random but I'm a bit of a closet geek if you haven't noticed. Plus I thought maybe people would enjoy random tidbits of information rather than my last few stories of debauchery. If you happen to come across this post and you have any questions let me know. I know more random knowledge, especially about lab work than most people and it'll give me stuff to write about, so leave questions in the comments for me.

6 comments:

Amy said...

I don't have specific questions, but I would love to read more random lab facts. :)

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