This week’s short story is nothing too extraordinary—just a quick snippet about a new member in Ava’s stem cell lab. In real life, Rene is actually an international post-grad in the Hilton Lab. He already has his PhD and most of his work focuses on a downstream pathway of NOTCH-signaling. In the most basic terms, NOTCH signaling allows a stem cell to remain a stem cell and not differentiate; alternating the activation and inactivation of NOTCH signaling across bone stem cells would possibly give a great outcome of regenerating bones since this might maintain enough stem cells to become the new bone.
Hope you all enjoy the story!
Ava banged the door shut. “Darn those Woodpeltian scoundrels!” She had just stomped back in her lab room after a meeting with other stem cell researchers from clan of Woodpelt squirrels. “They refuse to sell us any type-1 skins. How are we gonna grow our bone marrow stromal cells now?” She was only talking to herself, though her Magnecow, Mabel, was also present. She was standing in her stall, slowly shaking her head.
“Ya’ll shouldn’t be surprised,” she let out deep moos, though Ava was able to translate her guttural sounds into sentences. “You’re a Magnecowish—ya’ll raise Magnecows like me. Humans raisin’ different genopet species don’t get along with one another, just as we genopet species can’t stand the sight ‘n smell of one another.” She gave a snort and swished her long tail.
Ava sighed. She turned to gaze at her genopet cow. Mabel was a genopet species known as a Magnecow. Such cows had magnetic organs. The milk they produced was known as “Magnemilk,” a special type of milk that contained bone marrow stromal cells—or BMSCs—which were stem cells that became bone. If one consumed the milk, one would consume the stem cells needed for proper bone growth, which meant rapid bone-healing or bone-growth once the stem cells in the milk were consumed. Such a quality was what made the Magnecows special: in the milk of many other genopet species of cows, the stem cells are missing because they mix with all the other ingredients in the milk, and they become dead and ineffective in the body. But since the Magnecows have magnetic organs, all the unwanted ingredients stick to the organs and the stem cells are still alive by the time Magnecow farmers like Ava’s husband obtain their milk.
Unfortunately, however, Ava’s 10-year-old son, Tommy, had refused to drink a single cup of her milk whenever she served it to him. He had been dumping it down the sink behind her back. To make matters worse, the other children of the Magnecow Clan had also been throwing away the Magnemilk cartons whenever they were served it in school. The Magnecows in their clan had refused to eat the electroplants that kept their organs magnetized, and as a result, they were unable to produce milk that contained the stem cells needed for bone regrowth.
Now, Ava’s lab had found another method of obtaining the bone stem cells without having to produce Magnecow milk. By using “normal,” stem-cell-deficient milk from their Magnecows, and then mixing that milk with the milk of Flamecows and Goaticillin, they could create a cell culture media that could make bone stem cells multiply as many times as they needed. The only drawback now, was that the bone stem cells would need to stick to a specific media in order to turn into bone.
Ava crossed her arms and looked out her window. She gazed into the room where she had just had her meeting. The humans of the Woodpelt Clan were leaving with their wood-skinned brown squirrels on their shoulders. Unlike the humans of Magnecow Clan, the Woodpeltians had chestnut-colored hair that matched the wooden skin of their squirrels. The Magnecowish humans had silver hair that matched the silver splotches on their cows.
“Darn them all,” Ava muttered. “The wooden skin they sent us last week was a type-3 PEEK material. None of our stem cells stuck to them!”
Mabel chortled. “Waste of money, eh?”
Ava huffed. “It was a total waste of money!” She narrowed her eyes at her cow. “And I don’t get why you aren’t as angry as I am. You and I fought against those Woodpelt squirrels in the Genopet League, and our clan as a whole beat them! We deserve to choose what types of wooden skin to obtain.”
The door opened behind her. Ava looked over her shoulder to see a tall, chestnut-haired man walking in with a Magnecow by his side. Ava’s cheeks reddened. This man had chestnut hair, just like the Woodpeltians. Yet, here he was with a Magnecow pet!
“Um, excuse me but what’s a foreigner like you doin’ in my lab with my clan’s genopet?” Ava walked up to the man.
The man gazed at her with a confused look, and then spoke. “I am here to work with you,” he spoke in a steady voice, which emphasized the succinctness in his accent. “Didn’t Dr. Hilton tell you he was hiring a new researcher?”
Ava gasped. “You’re the newbie?”
He nodded. “I am Reni.”
Mabel gave a loud moo and stomped her left hoof twice. “Aha! So now we have a clan immigrant in the workplace!” She gazed at the cow by his side. “Gertrude, how does it feel to have a non-clan member bossin’ ya around?”
The Magnecow by his side gave a snort. “Stinky,” she grunted. Every genopet species despised the scent of genopet species other than their own, including the humans that trained them.
Ava narrowed her eyes and crossed her arms. So now her new lab partner was a clan immigrant. “So,” she spoke testily. “You were been born with the humans that raised Woodpelt squirrels. Now you’re here, carin’ for another genopet species. What made ya decide to come and work with Magnecows?”
Mabel snickered. “Probly got fed up with those chittery squirrel varmints.”
Reni nodded. “That is one reason,” he remarked. “But also because my wife is here, receiving treatment for her broken hip. She has been here for two years now, and you Magnecowish still haven’t regrown all her bones.”
Ava sighed. “Well, progress has been slow since our Magnecows decided to stop producing Magnecow milk. But we’ve found a new method to obtain bone stem cells to regrow more bones! Haven’t you heard of the HEM-alpha cell culture media we prepared from mixing the milk from Magnecows, Flamecows, and Goaticillins? We can make as many bone stem cells as we want!”
Reni nodded again. “But you don’t have the right media for those bone stem cells to become bone cells. And that’s why I’m here to help you. I can try and make compromises with my own clan so that they can help you help me—a former member of their clan.”
Ava gasped. “Ah! Perhaps you can try and convince your former clan-mates to sell us type-1 wood-skin?”
Reni spoke in his steady, somewhat-heavy accent. “You don’t understand. In the meeting, my clan was trying to explain to you that it’s not the type of wood-skin you need to change, but the type of cell culture media you introduce to the wood-skin. Different bone stem cells require different culture media to become specialized cells. Just like you need a specific media to make the bone stem cells multiply, you need another type of media if you want those cells to become bone cells on a certain material.”
Ava raised an eyebrow. “And you’ll teach us how to make this specific cell culture media, so that we won’t have to spend a ridiculous amount of money to buy an even more expensive type of wood-skin?”
Rene nodded. “Since I grew up raising Woodpelt squirrels, I know a lot about the development of their wood-skin and what makes certain wood-skin types different from one another. I can show this lab how to prepare the right wood-skin media for those bone stem cells and for the wood-skin media you have right now.”
Ava exchanged glances with Mabel and Gertrude, who was holding her breath with a twisted frown on her face. Then Ava smiled.
“Well then,” she said. “Looks like this won’t be so bad after all.”
Gertrude gave another snort and swiveled her head away so that she was not facing Reni. “Hopefully this will be worth puttin’ up with the stench.”