Cell Culture Biology
All living creatures are made of cells. The simplest forms of life are solitary cells that propagate by dividing into two. Higher organisms, such as ourselves, are like cellular cities in which groups of cells perform specialised functions and are linked by intricate systems of communication. We study cells to learn how they are made from molecules, and how they co-operate to make an organism as complex as the human being. An important part of medical cell and molecular sciences is understanding how and why the normal processes of cell life go wrong and result in pathological conditions. In our department, we have many tools and techniques at our disposal to research and study aspects of cellular and molecular biology.
In the field of Cell Biology and Histology and three research focus areas, namely Reproductive Biology, Contact Dermatitis and Toxicology.
In Reproductive Biology researchers are studying the process of sperm decondensation in fertilization. Spermatozoa decondensation, the replacement of somatic histones with protamines is a maturation process that is essential for sucessful fertilization. Fluorescence and electron microscopy are used to evaluate the effects of various chemicals and toxins on spermatozoa decondensation.
Latex allergy and associated contact dermatitis are occupational hazards that has an increasing impact on medical profession. The effects of latex material on the cell in vitro is investigated. Methodologies have been developed to test for the biological safety of various latex based materials.
The effects of toxins and chemicals on cell growth and morphology, gene expression and embryo development are developing areas of research. Cell viability, membrane integrity and induction of DNA strand breaks are some of the cytotoxic effects that are investigated. The establishment and development of new techniques to study cell morphology and tissue structure is essential to keep research endeavors of a high standard.
Collaboration studies together with other laboratories to study the effects of other toxic agents on cell growth and morphology, gene expression and embryo development are new developing areas of research.
Prof E Pretorius