Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Worthington Collagenase Sampling Service

Worthington Biochemicals has a great scheme that should bring a smile to the face of any laboratory manager - especially to those who manage the budget. Worthington operates a 'try before you buy' scheme and the idea has grown in popularity since it was introduced.

It works like this. Imagine that you want to purchase some Collagenase to use in a research project. Well, as any researcher knows, there's Collagenase and there's Collagenase. In other words, not just any Collagenase will do. For various reasons beyond my meagre comprehension, one needs just the right sort of Collagenase if things are going to work.

And that's where the scheme comes in. If you are prepared to commit to a purchase, Worthington will allow you to try out several varieties of Collagenase until you find the one that's right for you. Those who have taken part in the scheme seem convinced. And if you feel that this makes sense to you, feel free to contact Claire by emailing And I promise that it will only take one email to find the right Claire.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

IQC Kits to be launched

IQC Kits to be launched by Lorne
Lorne is preparing to launch a new IQC kit for UK based serologists in the coming weeks. Recent trials in the UK have suggested that the kits will be well received and feedback has been very encouraging.

Speaking to many blood transfusion professionals at this year’s BBTS in Harrogate, it was clear that the kit has many advantages over what is currently available in the UK market. It was also clear that there were other issues apart from quality that left UK based blood transfusion specialists crying out for a new IQC kit – reliability and price were two other important issues and both of these will be addressed as this new kit comes to market.

Lorne has been keen to add a quality IQC kit to its product portfolio. This kit belongs alongside Lorne’s blood grouping reagents as it offers a high quality solution to those seeking a different panel in an IQC kit. If you are interested in more information about the IQC kit, drop me a line at and I will give you the good news. Things will only get better when I tell you the price…

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Lorne training videos launched at Medica

Langanbach, with Lorne’s Technical Director Eddy Velthuis
Having spent many years delivering training courses of one sort or another, it was a pleasure to present another new training course to a number of distributors, NGOs and end users who were attending Medica 2012. (That’s Jim Woods in the photo, the Sales Director of our Irish Distributor, Langanbach, with Lorne’s Technical Director Eddy Velthuis – and me)

I’m not sure how comfortable I would have felt had our products not enjoyed a reputation for quality. It cannot be easy manning a stand when the product on offer is sub-standard, never mind standing in front of those at the sharp end in a training scenario. Fortunately, there is sufficient good will towards Lorne and fronting a presentation at a trade show can be positively pleasurable under such circumstances.

The main focus of the presentation – as it would be for any company – is the brand proposition. Lorne has a simple brand proposition. It produces high quality, stable wet reagents, backed by great customer service and sold at competitive prices. From a marketing perspective, this is an easy sell to those who already buy from us. They already know.

But perhaps the most pleasurable offering of the day was the launch of the new training videos. Lorne has produced videos demonstrating how their reagents can be used. For anyone involved in the practicalities of blood grouping, these videos are an essential guide to utilising wet reagents using the various techniques available. The tube technique, the slide technique, the microtitre technique and the gel card techniques are all covered in glorious technicolour. And they come with a simple commentary to guide the user. Those who have watched them, liked them. I hope you will like them too. The videos are available very soon on the Lorne website.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Medica is calling!

Lorne as a manufacturer of high quality diagnostic reagents
For a company such as Lorne, this time of year means one thing. In one week’s time, the World’s largest medical-related exhibition takes place in Dusseldorf, Germany, and we will be there. This year, we are sending seven of the Lorne team to meet with distributors, export customers and suppliers. Amongst other things, we will be looking to appoint a distributor for Germany.

For any UK readers who may be familiar with BBTS, start thinking on a vastly different scale. There are more than 4500 exhibitors spread out across 17 huge exhibition halls. The site is enormous, and unlike the Great Wall of China which cannot in fact be seen from space, I am pretty sure that you could probably see the Messe Dusseldorf from way up yonder.

Lorne will be at Medica in its capacity as a manufacturer of high quality diagnostic reagents and can be found in Hall 1, Stand F13. As well as meeting our current distributors throughout the exhibition, we will also be busy on Thursday morning, offering our new training presentation about Lorne and its products. Who knows, we may even be visited by another UK Government Minister – just like Lord Stephen Green – who visited our stand last year (see photo).

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Starless and Bible Black

serum albumin
It’s that time of year again. Those of us based in the UK shed a silent tear for the retreat of summer and the early evening darkness that comes with the clocks moving back to Greenwich Mean Time. It got me thinking about darkness and light, colour and shade and how they pop up from time to time in our business.

Of course, blood has long been associated with a particular shade of red. With the semi-holiday of Halloween upon us, children across the UK will attempt to improve their stock of chocolates and sweets with the help of ghostly costumes and oodles of fake blood. The deep crimson shade of the sort we might experience in blood labs is rarely duplicated accurately. I like to think I can spot fake blood from afar. At least, I hope I can.

This week also witnessed reports from the BBC about ‘blood rain’. This is a meteorological phenomenon whereby rain carrying particles swept up in sand storms many miles away falls upon the UK, turning cars and houses a shade of red. It’s hardly convincing as blood however. It’s just a bit reddish – pink even.

Getting back to real blood and colours, I thought about the word ‘bilirubin’. This is a bile pigment produced during the process of red blood cell destruction. There is a clue in the name. The ‘rubin’ part is derived from the Latin word ‘ruber’ which means red. As in ruby.

And finally, it got me thinking about serum albumin. Once again, there is a clue to the colour in its name. ‘Alb’ is Latin for ‘white’. The word ‘albumin’ in common parlance is most often associated with egg white (which isn’t even white until you fry it), but strictly speaking, albumin is a catch-all for a class of simple water soluble proteins. Not all of them are white, though. Still, it completes our journey through the shades. I can now get back to cleaning the sand off my car.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

A Truly Shocking Blood Donation

Blood Transfusion service
For many years, I was one of those people who carry an Epi-pen around with me. Back in 1995, I had suffered a massive allergic reaction to something – I know not what – and the resulting anaphylactic shock nearly brought my innings to an early close. It was a close shave and not one I am in a hurry to repeat.

I have now been told that I can dispense with my Epi-pen. I had carried it around everywhere I went, determined not to fall victim a second time. But despite extensive tests, they never did find what caused the reaction. “It’s rare”, I was told. Too rare to worry about it seems.

I have a colleague who can be less casual about such things. She has a range of allergens which she must avoid and it makes quite an impact on her day to day habits. Nuts are one such allergen. Everyone here at Lorne is careful about the nut situation and we never offer biscuits or cakes (on birthdays, you understand) that might contain nuts. Having said that, among the many risks she faces, the one that has probably not pressed itself on her thoughts is the risk she takes when receiving a blood transfusion (let’s hope she never needs one!).

Earlier this year, doctors in the Netherlands confirmed that a child had suffered an anaphylactic shock after receiving a blood transfusion. It turns out that some of the donors had been eating peanuts shortly before making their donation. The child survived, but it did suggest that there may have been unexplained deaths after other transfusions that could be attributed to allergic rather than transfusion reactions. Now that the risk has been proven, I wonder how long it will be before the Blood Transfusion Service requests nut-free blood donations!

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Lab Coats – Whiter than white

lab coats title=
I am always impressed when I pop down to the lab at Lorne. Apart from the fact that there is some genuine and impressive science-type activity going on (compared to what I do day to day), I have always marvelled at just how white everyone’s lab coats are. Perhaps it is the domestic side of me that kicks in (what washing powder are they using?), because I can never manage the same with my own shirts or socks.

So, I was somewhat surprised to find out this week that lab coats were not originally white. As it turns out, the interesting laboratory-based fact that has been doing the rounds on the internet recently is that lab coats were originally black in color. It seems that this was out of respect for the cadavers that were used in medical research when such activities were still in their infancy. It might also have been a domestic matter too – how did they get those stains out in the nineteenth century?

But at least the modern trend sits comfortably with the rest of the laboratory experience. There is something of a white theme going on – laboratory fridges, laboratory freezers, storage cabinets, laminar flow cabinets – you name it – they all seem to look the part with their clean white exteriors. The other surface that dominates in the Lorne lab is glass. Even some of the walls are made of glass. And, of course, some of the marvellous new laboratory fridges and freezers have glass doors.

Even if you did not manage to see one of new range of Lorne laboratory and blood bank fridges and freezers at BBTS, you can always drop us an email and we can share some information with you ( And if you do happen to see me at next year’s BBTS, I can let you know just what detergent we use to achieve that wonderful clean look.