Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New Technology Shows Molecules and Cells in Action

06.02.2012
A photograph of a polar bear in captivity, no matter how sharp the resolution, can never reveal as much about behavior as footage of that polar bear in its natural habitat.

The behavior of cells and molecules can prove even more elusive. Limitations in biomedical imaging technologies have hampered attempts to understand cellular and molecular behavior, with biologists trying to envision dynamic processes through static snapshots.

Deborah Kelly, an assistant professor in the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, has now developed a novel technology platform to peer closely into the world of cells and molecules within a native, liquid environment.

Kelly and colleagues have developed a way to isolate biological specimens in a flowing, liquid environment while enclosing those specimens in the high-vacuum system of a transmission electron microscope (TEM). The TEM liquid-flow holder, developed by Protochips Inc. of Raleigh, N.C., accommodates biological samples between two semiconductor microchips that are tightly sealed together. These chips form a microfluidic device smaller than a Tic Tac. This device, positioned at the tip of an EM specimen holder, permits liquid flow in and out of the holder. When these chips are coated with a special affinity biofilm that Kelly developed, they have the ability to capture cells and molecules rapidly and with high specificity. This system allows researchers to watch -- at unprecedented resolution -- biological processes as they occur, such as the interaction of a molecule with a receptor on a cell that triggers normal development or cancer.

"With this new technology, we can capture and view the native architecture of cells and their surface protein receptors while learning about their dynamic interactions, such as what happens when cells interact with pathogens or drugs," said Kelly. "We can now isolate cancer cells, for example, and view the early events of chemotherapy in action."

Kelly had previously worked with colleagues at Harvard Medical School to develop a way to capture protein machinery in a frozen environment. "But life moves," said Kelly. "It’s better if biological processes don’t have to be paused or frozen in order to be studied, but can be viewed in dynamic and life-sustaining liquid environments."

Kelly’s affinity capture device, in combination with high-resolution TEM, helps bridge the gap between cellular and molecular imaging, allowing researchers to achieve spatial resolution as high as two nanometers. "This device allows us to see new features on the surface of live cancer cells, providing new targets for drug therapy," Kelly said. "With this resolution, scientists may even be able to visualize disease processes as they unfold."

The research appears in the February issue of RSC Advances, an international journal of the Royal Society of Chemistry of London, in the article "The development of affinity capture devices -- a nanoscale purification platform for biological in situ transmission electron microscopy," by Katherine Degen, a biomedical engineering student at the University of Virginia; Madeline Dukes, an applications scientist at Protochips; Justin Tanner, a postdoctoral associate at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute; and Kelly, the corresponding author. The link to the article is http://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlelanding/2012/ra/c2ra01163h

Paula Byron | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.vt.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Scientists spin artificial silk from whey protein
24.01.2017 | Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron DESY

nachricht Choreographing the microRNA-target dance
24.01.2017 | UT Southwestern Medical Center

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Scientists spin artificial silk from whey protein

X-ray study throws light on key process for production

A Swedish-German team of researchers has cleared up a key process for the artificial production of silk. With the help of the intense X-rays from DESY's...

Im Focus: Quantum optical sensor for the first time tested in space – with a laser system from Berlin

For the first time ever, a cloud of ultra-cold atoms has been successfully created in space on board of a sounding rocket. The MAIUS mission demonstrates that quantum optical sensors can be operated even in harsh environments like space – a prerequi-site for finding answers to the most challenging questions of fundamental physics and an important innovation driver for everyday applications.

According to Albert Einstein's Equivalence Principle, all bodies are accelerated at the same rate by the Earth's gravity, regardless of their properties. This...

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Breaking the optical bandwidth record of stable pulsed lasers

24.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Choreographing the microRNA-target dance

24.01.2017 | Life Sciences

Spanish scientists create a 3-D bioprinter to print human skin

24.01.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>