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“Band-Aid” for a Slippery Problem

March 15, 2011

By Jason Jacks

Daniel Cox

With a wealth of time, energy, and money invested in a project, the last thing scientists such as Daniel Cox want to see happen is it to all go to waste because of a slippery microscope slide.

“It really was a necessity that brought us to this,” says Cox, talking of the invention he and doctoral student, Eswar Iyer, pioneered.

Referred to as a “dehydrator” within Mason’s Department of Molecular and Microbiology, where Cox is the graduate program director, Cox’s creation keeps tissue samples in place and protected from the damaging effects of being dumped into various substances.

Without the invention, which also is called a tissue-processing unit, samples, particularly those that are not thin and flat, have a tendency to fall off slides as they are being prepared. Cox says this happens about 20 percent of the time, leaving samples often damaged and unusable.

“This is a constant problem for us,” he points out.

Resembling a Band-Aid, the tissue-processing unit is a small mesh sheet with adhesive edges, which is placed over the slide and the sample. Since it is permeable, fluids can pass through it but the sample stays put. Among students, the invention, which was partly funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Health, has so far been successful in retaining samples 100 percent of the time, he says.

Cox says he may have other Mason researchers test his invention.

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