To be honest, my research these days is not going so well. I have to change the enzymatic system I am using and haven’t quite decided yet which the new system should be. Only way to know for sure is to try multiple enzymes. But they are quite expensive.
That’s why, for the first enzyme I wanted to try, I decided to extract it myself instead of buying it. If the test works I’ll buy the pure and expensive one. But if it doesn’t I’ll try another one.
As a biochemist I’m able to extract enzymes or other proteins from living material unless the origin is something like snake venom or some other stuff difficult or dangerous to come by.
The one I wanted to try is an enzyme from the liver. Yesterday I went to the supermarket and bought a slice of lamb liver. Why lamb? Because when I was buying it some guy told me that bovine liver contained more toxins and that I should eat lamb meat and bla bla bla… I couldn’t say “OK, thanks but I am not going to eat this” so I bought lamb just not to upset him.
For an efficient extraction you need to grind the tissue. A kitchen blender is perfect for that. But we don’t have this in the lab. So first thing this morning I had to cut the liver into small pieces and grind it, while I suffered the disapproving glance of my girlfriend (who hates even the mere idea that internal organs could be eaten).
I came relatively early to the lab so no one saw me stirring bloody things (literally) in acetone. But then there was the problem; I needed to filter the small insoluble chunks. In biology the filters we have are used for filtering bacteria out of liquids so the pores are really small (0.2µm). So I had to go and ask the chemists for a larger filter. But all the glassware they use is so complicated for me. I mean seriously, they have those numbered filter funnels, as the number increases the pore size decreases. Who invented this?
Me: “I need to filter large particles, can I use one of your funnels?”
Chemist colleague: “Sure, what do you want to filter?”
Me: “Ehh… millimetre sized particles. They are in an acetone solution”
Cc: “OK but is it organic? What exactly is it?”
Me: “(*sight*) Well, it is grinded lamb liver in acetone, I’d like to filter out the meat chunks.”
Lesson learned: If your sample really is gruesome, don’t tell them what it is.
I went to another chemist and this time I didn’t tell him the dubious nature of the brown heterogeneous solution I had. He was very kind and lent me the largest funnel he had. I made sure to wash it thoroughly before bringing it back.
For now my filtered solution needs to incubate in the fridge overnight. I hope the extraction will work. Otherwise all this burden will be for nothing.