Endometrial Stem Cell Research at Cornell University (RABS)
During the summer of 2019, I had the opportunity to participate in research at Cornell University, through the summer research program RABS (Research Apprenticeship in Biological Sciences).
With my previous experience with immunohistochemistry (a method of tissue staining), I was located in the Lab of Alexander Nikitin, Department of Biomedical Sciences. Here I had the opportunity to research about endometrial stem cells.
Endometrium is the inner layer of the uterus. It's epithelial layer grows and gets reabsorbed during the estrous cycle (or menstrual cycle for humans). Epithelial stem cells seem to have a big role in this process; however, the precise identity of the epithelial stem cell isn't clarified yet. My role was to set a foundation to identification - to acquire marker proteins for the endometrium epithelium.
I was surprised that mouse endometrium progenitor stem cells weren't identified until now. There was still a whole world of mystery left to discover. Understanding of the progenitor cell will be a step closer to solving endometrial cancer.
This time, the immunohistochemistry protocols were different from my previous lab. It was moving paraffin embedded sections that required extra steps (instead of frozen sections). It was good that I could try different methods of staining.
While one of the antibodies worked, one unfortunately didn't. This antibody-problem wasn't solved even at the end of 6 weeks. I've performed 7 different trials, with mended protocols and controls. Positive control, negative control, dilution ratio, extra step, time in solution... I tried to change every variable. I emailed different professors who had performed with the antibody in previous research. I had to conclude that the antibody didn't work for the specific tissue (either the quality of antibody was bad, or a different protocol was needed). I guess research is a series of failures that leads to discoveries. Patience is what I learned from my time here.
Here is the link to the final paper & presentation I made after 6 weeks.
TROP2 and FOXA2 as potential biomarkers for identification of mouse endometrial epithelial stem cells.