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Research Communications

‘Seahorse’ will help scientists advance medical research 

Oct. 24, 2013

By Kathryn McFadden

A new piece of research equipment at Ohio University will help scientists study aging, cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes and metabolic disorders. 

The Seahorse XF Analyzer measures cellular metabolism by monitoring oxygen consumption rate and proton release and extracellular acidification rate. 

“In layman’s terms, it’s a machine to help you determine how cells, tissues and small organisms get their energy, or how they use it,” said Darlene Berryman, executive director of the university’s Diabetes Institute. 

The data can help researchers study a wide range of human disorders. In addition, the Seahorse can be used for toxicology, hepatobiology, translational medicine and screening projects.

“It’s a very diverse piece of equipment … so many folks were willing to contribute to its purchase,” Berryman said. “It can help anyone who is interested in the flow of energy in a cell, tissue or organism.”

The Seahorse was primarily supported by the Ohio University 1804 Fund, but funds also were contributed by the Diabetes Institute, Edison Biotechnology Institute, Innovation Center, Ohio Musculoskeletal and Neurological Institute, Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, College of Health Sciences and Professions, Molecular and Cellular Biology Graduate Program, Department of Biomedical Sciences, School of Applied Health Sciences and Wellness and individual faculty members.

Misako Hata manages the new Seahorse research equipment at the Edison Biotechnology Institute.

Misako Hata manages the new Seahorse research equipment at the Edison Biotechnology Institute. Photo by: Kathryn McFadden.

The equipment is available for use by Ohio University faculty and graduate students, as well as scientists outside of the institution. Misako Hata, facility manager and biomedical research assistant for the Edison Biotechnology Institute, manages the Seahorse at the institute’s Konneker Research Center on The Ridges. 

“A wide range of researchers will have the opportunity to access the Seahorse,” Hata said. “This machine gives researchers a new tool to discover something that they could not see before.”

There are few Seahorse XF Analyzers in the state of Ohio, and no other university has one set up as a core facility for multiple users, Berryman said. 

In her own work, Berryman uses the Seahorse to study fat cells and how they change with obesity and the progression to type 2 diabetes. 

“As fat represents the major energy storage site in the body, understanding how energy is produced in these cells can help us better understand the susceptibility of obesity,” Berryman said.

To use the Seahorse, contact Misako Hata at 740.593.4713 or hata@ohio.edu. A website for users to access the seahorse and other equipment at the Konneker Research Center will be launched soon.