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Thread: Help! Matrigel needle stick! Could I get cancer?

  1. #1 Help! Matrigel needle stick! Could I get cancer? 
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    I'm just a student lab rat, and I was searching the internet for information on the dangers of matrigel in humans, because as I was preparing pure matrigel (BD Biosciences) for control injections, one of my co-workers walked by very fast and shoved my arm and I actually don't know exactly how but I accidentally got stuck with the needle on my opposite arm, and since I was in the middle of getting the air out my finger was on the plunger about 50 ul of matrigel was injected into my arm! I am terrified that I'll get cancer now since it is made from mouse sarcoma. Has this been testing in humans? Does it actually cause cancer?

    Does anyone who has worked with matrigel know? In mice, matrigel as control does not cause tumors, so that's a good sign, but it's made from mice and causes differentiation of cells.


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    Forum Professor jrmonroe's Avatar
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    First of all, you should have reported it immediately to the supervisor of the laboratory and to the supervisor of your course. Then you wouldn't be getting so upset.

    Second, I hate to make this annoying statement, but did you google matrigel? If you did, you may have found this it's the first (non-advertised) result:

    Matrigel is the trade name for a gelatinous protein mixture secreted by Engelbreth-Holm-Swarm (EHS) mouse sarcoma cells and marketed by BD Biosciences and by Trevigen Inc under the name Cultrex BME. This mixture resembles the complex extracellular environment found in many tissues and is used by cell biologists as a substrate for cell culture.
    source

    Most likely, it does not contain any cells in it because you don't want relatively monstrous cells floating around when you only want to deal with much smaller protein molecules, so the producers most likely separated them from the mixture, which is relatively easy although not guaranteed. Aside from that, seeing as how they are mouse sarcoma cells, your immune system would attack and destroy any cells that managed to get through the separation process, and it may even attack some or all of the mouse proteins if they are different enough from human proteins to be recognized as foreign. I read recently where some misfolded proteins cause other proteins to misfold, but I doubt there's anything like this happening in you ... hopefully.

    Matrigel causes differentiation of cells? Really? Before you die on us
    , could you tell us a little more about this? This sounds interesting. Maybe it will cause some cells in your arm to differentiate into a mouse leg! (Just kidding )


    Grief is the price we pay for love. (CM Parkes) Our postillion has been struck by lightning. (Unknown) War is always the choice of the chosen who will not have to fight. (Bono) The years tell much what the days never knew. (RW Emerson) Reality is not always probable, or likely. (JL Borges)
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    Argh, I figured that people in the science forum would assume that I would have done all of the obvious things. Of course the very first thing I did was grab the MSDS, which says it contains a cancer causing substance but that it was chloroform, and growth hormone, which when overexpressed does cause cancer.

    The second thing I did was google the heck out of it for over two hours before I posted. I read every single piece of info, yes I know it's an extracellular matrix and all that stuff. Still there was no peer reviewed journal published research showing results in humans, just the phrase "NOT FOR HUMAN USE" over and over.

    And being the only other person working on a Sunday afternoon, there was no one in the entire lab to report this to except for my dumb co-worker who doesn't know anything at all. And my boss is on vacation until the end of next week. And there is absolutely nothing the ER or my doctor can do, as it immediately congeals at body temperature and absorbs into the body, so I guess they could cut my arm off but I think that's a bit drastic.

    You can google the growth signals that matrigel contains yourself (it's everywhere, even on the wiki page) to see how it helps cells grow and differentiate. Lately it is used for differentiation of stem cells in culture.

    Anyway, I emailed the company directly and am trying not to worry too much. If I grow a mouse leg or head out of my arm I'll let you know. :P
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    Forum Professor jrmonroe's Avatar
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    Sorry for the finger-wagging. Not the balm you expected.

    You have a better handle on the situation than I do. It mostly sounds like learning a good lesson to stay clear of bumbling associates.

    And a sense of humor is definitely a good thing. Print out the "NOT FOR HUMAN USE" warning and tape it to your associate's forehead. Ha ha ha!
    Grief is the price we pay for love. (CM Parkes) Our postillion has been struck by lightning. (Unknown) War is always the choice of the chosen who will not have to fight. (Bono) The years tell much what the days never knew. (RW Emerson) Reality is not always probable, or likely. (JL Borges)
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  6. #5 Matrigel needle stick 
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    I had 21 years of experience in the commercial production of Matrigel. Many of us had needle pricks with the viable tumor used in the extration of Matrigel; this was done in the course of passaging the tumor in thousands of mice; there was never any adverse reaction because of these accidents. During 2007-2008 the product had been extensively tested for the presence of viruses which included a large panel found in mice; no virus contamination was found In addition the product is rendered sterile by means of dialysis using an aqueous chloroform solution. The EHS tumor cells have been shown to grow only in cerain strains of mice; it will not grow in rats and certainly not in you.
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