Researchers at the Department of Energys Oak Ridge National Laboratory have developed a nanoscale technology for investigating biomolecular processes in single living cells. The new technology enables researchers to monitor and study cellular signaling networks, including the first observation of programmed cell death in a single live cell.
This image shows a nanoprobe, with a tip 1,000 times finer than a human hair, penetrating a cell. The probe can enter, perform a measurement in situ and be withdrawn without destroying the cell. The nanobiosensor technology provides researchers who study cell systems at the molecular level a valuable tool for monitoring the health of a single cell.
The "nanobiosensor" allows scientists to physically probe inside a living cell without destroying it. As scientists adopt a systems approach to studying biomolecular processes, the nanobiosensor provides a valuable tool for intracellular studies that have applications ranging from medicine to national security to energy production.
ORNL Corporate Fellow and Life Sciences Division researcher Tuan Vo-Dinh leads a team of researchers who are developing the nanoscale technology. "This research illustrates the integrated ‘nano-bio-info approach to investigating and understanding these complex cell systems," Vo-Dinh said. "There is a need to explore uncharted territory inside a live cell and analyze the molecular processes. This minimally invasive nanotechnology opens the door to explore the inner world of single cells".
Bill Cabage | ORNL
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