Oppenheimer and more than a dozen undergraduate researchers publish protocol tracking cells’ conglomeration

Fourteen undergraduate researchers contributed to a new paper from CSUN Biology Professor Emeritus Steven Oppenheimer, piloting a protocol for tracking the propensity of cells to stick together.

Many kinds of cellular-level threats to human health are aggravated by clumping — aggregation of cancer or pathogen cells into groups that do more collective damage than individual cells can. Development of drugs to prevent clumping or break up clumps is limited by the ease of tracking the status of cells in culture, and the protocol, published this summer in the American Journal of Applied Scientific Research aims to provide a standard method for tracking the "clumpiness" of cells in a culture.

Student researchers assessed the percentage of yeast cells in a culture that were single, then applied different quantities of unclumping reagents, and reassessed clumping after an hour. Compared to a control with no reagent added, they found that treatment with sodium citrate dihydrate led to significant increases in single cells, and corresponding reductions in the number and size of yeast cell clumps.

The paper, which demonstrates the capabilities of Oppenheimer’s nationally-recognized undergraduate research program, is available open-access on the journal website.