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For an experiment, I need a specific number of cells. I will grow these cells in an incubator, and then measure the number of cells which have decayed due to the induced radiation. I am using a standard cell counting chamber (Hemocytometer) to count the number of cells.

The research question is to find the best armour for radiation; low-level really.

I was wondering which cell is the closest substitute to a standard human cell. People are telling me about yeast, but doesn't that grow from budding?

Any help and/or suggestion is appreciated.

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    $\begingroup$ The best analogue for human cells are human cells. There is nothing like a "standard human cell", since there are too many cell types. But since you probably want to study a specific cell type, you can culture these. $\endgroup$
    – Chris
    Apr 22 '16 at 6:19
  • $\begingroup$ Sadly I don't have the equipments to culture human cells. However, any idea as to how will I go about culturing human cells, and which ones are the easiest to harvest? If not, any bacteria/fungi which can be used as an alternative? Say I want to study skin and blood cells. I can use my own blood, maybe a drop or so. However, is there any chance of harvesting a sample of bacteria and use them? $\endgroup$
    – weirdpanda
    Apr 22 '16 at 7:12
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    $\begingroup$ Is there any chance that you collaborate with a research institute in your area about this? They often have programs for projects like this. $\endgroup$
    – Chris
    Apr 22 '16 at 9:17
  • $\begingroup$ @Chris, I am in the process of asking a couple of research institutions for help. My parents have a facility like this, but that's unavailable due to the fact that there is an on-going IVF batch. There is a 99% chance that they'll say yes. Any ideas for the E. Coli strain? $\endgroup$
    – weirdpanda
    Apr 22 '16 at 10:21
  • $\begingroup$ They will most likely not let you in a cell lab with bacteria. $\endgroup$
    – Chris
    Apr 22 '16 at 13:41
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What about Escherichia coli? Every undergraduate lab has easy access to plenty of E.coli culture methods and its stupid easy to culture. There are always HeLa cells as well if you really want the perfect analogue to human cells because, well, they are human cells. Other options would include:

a) HEK 293 cells (Human Embryonic Kidney 293 cells), which are nice for what you're looking at as they don't replicate out of control, but are still extremely easy to grow. However, they're generally used as hosts for gene expression and they're finicky when it comes to contamination and they don't really act like normal cells that would be hit by low level radiation (ie tissues that are closer to the skin's surface)

b) 3T3 cells which would be nice for you as they are contact inhibited cells, meaning they functionally keep growing into a layer one cell thick (a monolayer) which could be nice for you, especially if the low level rad you're testing is alpha emitting in which case you need a homogeneously thick cell layer.

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  • $\begingroup$ I was thinking of E. Coli in the beginning. However, I am in a school: grade 12. Sadly, I don't have access to a fancy incubator which can grow these cells. However, I presume I can get it kicking by asking others for an incubator. I don't really have a biology background. Is there any protocol specification available to grow these cells? Lastly, thanks a lot for this! It really helps! :) $\endgroup$
    – weirdpanda
    Apr 22 '16 at 7:28
  • $\begingroup$ Hm... Well, I guess reading this is a decent start as it outlines what is necessary to have and the basic principles behind cell cultures Basics of Cell Culture. But at the end of the day there's many reasons why cell cultures are done in university and lab settings, and doing so without the resources provided by those settings will be expensive and difficult. I would advise talking to your teacher, or your contacting your local university's biology department I think they would be more than willing to help you! $\endgroup$
    – RyFa
    Apr 22 '16 at 8:13
  • $\begingroup$ Last question, and I will be out of your hair. Which strain of E. Coli should I use? Most of them seem toxic. Will E. Coli K-12 be the one? $\endgroup$
    – weirdpanda
    Apr 22 '16 at 9:17
  • $\begingroup$ No worries! There's two common strains of E.coli that are most used in labs: K-12 and B strain. Which ever one of these two that you can get from a supplier/teacher/university professor is the one you should use as for your purposes it should not matter. If you are interested though here is a good starting point for some of the more common strains. $\endgroup$
    – RyFa
    Apr 22 '16 at 11:33
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I think yeast is a great idea. They are safe and cheap to grow, easy to obtain, and easy to see in the hemocytometer. Human cells are not something you grow in a school; you'll probably need licenses, you cannot buy a cell line in the supermarket and the medium (what they grow on) is ridiculously expensive.

Of course yeast doesn't really resemble human cells, but they will die from radiation all the same. What kind of radiation are you using? UV seems the most appropriate (still be careful that you don't burn yourself / your eyes / other people), any kinds of radiation you can use in school (if any) is probably not strong enough to kill a significant number of cells. You might be better of using a Geiger-counter or something like that to measure it directly.

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  • $\begingroup$ You don't need special licences unless you want to modify cells genetically. And standard media come between 3 and 10$ per bottle. $\endgroup$
    – Chris
    Apr 22 '16 at 9:16
  • $\begingroup$ @Chris One bottle gets finished too fast :P Plus you need flasks and FBS too. And a CO₂ incubator and a very clean room :P $\endgroup$
    – WYSIWYG
    Apr 22 '16 at 9:55

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