[Photo by Yale Rosen, via Creative Commons]
“Pitch Imperfect” is a series of blog posts where I highlight stories that I pitched but didn’t quite sell and discuss why it was tough to sell them. The goal is to share both interesting research stories and some of the obstacles in getting them into the news cycle.
How an Ordinary Piece of Lab Equipment Might Help Identify Fatty Acids in Cell Membranes
Proposed Dek (aka “the sub-headline” or “social media blurb”)
The makeup of cell membranes is more diverse than many suspect, but it’s hard to tell the molecules in membranes apart. This study might change that
The Pitch: (as sent on February 23rd)
Yesterday, I spoke with a Purdue biochemist whose lab may have opened up a whole new avenue of research on cell membranes and fatty acids. Their paper debuted on PNAS Early Edition , and Purdue has issued a press release, but so far no news outlets have picked up on its potential for helping biologists make sense of fatty tissues.
Yu Xia and her post-doc XiaoXiao Ma were able to identify 96 distinct fatty acids in a sample of rat brain tissue, using one of the most universal pieces of scientific equipment, a mass spectrometer. Up until now, no one has been able to tell fatty acids in cells apart without resorting to extremely expensive techniques.