Friday, October 24, 2014

A New Microscope Can See Inside Moving Cells In Real Time, and There Are Videos

Earlier this month, Virginia scientist  Eric Betzig won a Nobel Prize for a new type of microscopy he developed. Today, he published a new paper that arguably blows that Nobel-winning research out of the water.

His Nobel-winning discoveries  were in the field of fluorescent microscopy, which allowed him to see within cells at incredibly high resolutions. His previous method involved destroying the cells he and his team observed, because light itself is toxic to many cells (and light is necessary to perform microscopy). The resulting images were awesome, but photos could only be taken for a very short period of time before the cell was damaged to a point that it was no longer useful.


The problem with that, Betzig and co-authors admit in a new paper published today in Science, is that "many biological processes are too fragile, are too small, or occur too rapidly to see clearly with existing tools."

In their new work, the team describes a method of shooting light in from the side in two-dimensional sheets—a tactic Betzig calls lattice light-sheet microscopy—which allows basically any cell function to be directly imaged in living cells, in real time, without damaging the cells nearly as much as his old method.

What does this mean? Well, it means that we can now watch, in incredible resolution and in three dimensions, nerve cells forming synapses in the brain; cells undergoing mitosis; the formation of an embryo after sperm fertilizes an egg; and even internal cell functions such as protein translation, mitochondrial movements, and muscle flexes.

For the rest of the story:

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