Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


How Do Cells Die? Biophotonic Tools Reveal Real-Time Dynamics in Living Color

Apoptosis, programmed cell death, is essential to normal development, healthy immune system function, and cancer prevention. The process dramatically transforms cellular structures but the limitations of conventional microscopy methods have kept much about this structural reorganization a mystery.

Now, in research featured on the cover of the current issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, University at Buffalo scientists have developed a biophotonic imaging approach capable of monitoring in real-time the transformations that cellular macromolecules undergo during programmed cell death.

The work could help realize the potential of customized molecular medicine, in which chemotherapy, for example, can be precisely targeted to cellular changes exhibited by individual patients. It can also be a valuable drug development tool for screening new compounds.

“This new ability provides us with a dynamic mapping of the transformations occurring in the cell at the molecular level,” says study co-author Paras N. Prasad, PhD, executive director of the UB Institute for Lasers, Photonics and Biophotonics (ILPB) and SUNY Distinguished Professor in the departments of Chemistry, Physics, Electrical Engineering and Medicine. “It provides us with a very clear visual picture of the dynamics of proteins, DNA, RNA and lipids during the cell’s disintegration.”

Prasad notes that molecular medicine, in which treatments or preventive measures can be tailored to cellular properties exhibited by individual patients, depends on much better methods of visualizing what’s happening during critical cellular processes.

“This research helps improve our understanding of cellular events at the molecular level,” he says. “If we know that specific molecular changes constitute an early signature of a disease, or what changes may predispose a patient to that disease, then we can take steps to target treatment or even prevent the disease from developing in the first place.”

To capture the cellular images, the interdisciplinary UB team of biologists, chemists and physicists, led by Prasad, utilized an advanced biophotonic approach that combines three techniques: a nonlinear, optical imaging system (CARS or Coherent anti-Stokes Raman scattering), TPEF (two-photon excited fluorescence), which images living tissue and cells at deep penetration and Fluorescence Recovery after Photobleaching to measure dynamics of proteins.

“For the first time, this approach allows us to monitor in a single scan, four different types of images, characterizing the distribution of proteins, DNA, RNA and lipids in the cell,” says Aliaksandr V. Kachynski, PhD, research associate professor at the ILPB and co-author.

The resulting composite image integrates in one picture the information on all four types of biomolecules, with each type of molecule represented by a different color: proteins in red, RNA in green, DNA in blue and lipids in grey, as shown on the PNAS cover.

Multiplex imaging provided new information on the rate at which proteins diffuse through the cell nucleus, the UB scientists say.

Before apoptosis was induced, the distribution of proteins was relatively uniform, but once apoptosis develops, nuclear structures disintegrate, the proteins become irregularly distributed and their diffusion rate slows down, says Artem Pliss, PhD, research assistant professor at the ILPB and co-author on the paper.

“This research gives us the unique ability to study and improve our understanding of individual subcellular structures and the transformations they go through,” says Pliss.

Such precise information will be especially useful for monitoring how specific cancer drugs affect individual cells.

“For example, say drug therapy is being administered to a cancer patient; this system will allow for the monitoring of cellular changes throughout the treatment process,” notes Kachynski. “Clinicians will be able to determine the optimal conditions to kill a cancer cell for the particular type of disease. An improved understanding of the drug-biomolecule interactions will help discover the optimal treatment doses so as to minimize side effects.”

Andrey Kuzmin, PhD, research assistant professor at the ILPB and co-author, adds that a new paper from the UB team, forthcoming in Biophysical Journal, further extends this work.

“The benefits of the UB multiplex imaging system and its molecular selectivity have been further extended into a new fundamental cellular study, structural reorganization throughout the mitotic cell cycle,” he says.

The work was supported by a grant from the John R. Oishei Foundation of Buffalo, N.Y.

The researchers are active participants in the strategic strength in Integrated Nanostructured Systems identified in the UB 2020 strategic plan for academic, research and service excellence.

The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, a flagship institution in the State University of New York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.

Ellen Goldbaum | Newswise Science News
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Novel mechanisms of action discovered for the skin cancer medication Imiquimod
21.10.2016 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Second research flight into zero gravity
21.10.2016 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>