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 Brain cells protect muscles from wasting away
24.02.2020 | University of California - Berkeley

nachricht Colorectal cancer: Increased life expectancy thanks to individualised therapies
20.02.2020 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: A step towards controlling spin-dependent petahertz electronics by material defects

The operational speed of semiconductors in various electronic and optoelectronic devices is limited to several gigahertz (a billion oscillations per second). This constrains the upper limit of the operational speed of computing. Now researchers from the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter in Hamburg, Germany, and the Indian Institute of Technology in Bombay have explained how these processes can be sped up through the use of light waves and defected solid materials.

Light waves perform several hundred trillion oscillations per second. Hence, it is natural to envision employing light oscillations to drive the electronic...

Im Focus: Freiburg researcher investigate the origins of surface texture

Most natural and artificial surfaces are rough: metals and even glasses that appear smooth to the naked eye can look like jagged mountain ranges under the microscope. There is currently no uniform theory about the origin of this roughness despite it being observed on all scales, from the atomic to the tectonic. Scientists suspect that the rough surface is formed by irreversible plastic deformation that occurs in many processes of mechanical machining of components such as milling.

Prof. Dr. Lars Pastewka from the Simulation group at the Department of Microsystems Engineering at the University of Freiburg and his team have simulated such...

Im Focus: Skyrmions like it hot: Spin structures are controllable even at high temperatures

Investigation of the temperature dependence of the skyrmion Hall effect reveals further insights into possible new data storage devices

The joint research project of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) that had previously demonstrated...

Im Focus: Making the internet more energy efficient through systemic optimization

Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, recently completed a 5-year research project looking at how to make fibre optic communications systems more energy efficient. Among their proposals are smart, error-correcting data chip circuits, which they refined to be 10 times less energy consumptive. The project has yielded several scientific articles, in publications including Nature Communications.

Streaming films and music, scrolling through social media, and using cloud-based storage services are everyday activities now.

Im Focus: New synthesis methods enhance 3D chemical space for drug discovery

After helping develop a new approach for organic synthesis -- carbon-hydrogen functionalization -- scientists at Emory University are now showing how this approach may apply to drug discovery. Nature Catalysis published their most recent work -- a streamlined process for making a three-dimensional scaffold of keen interest to the pharmaceutical industry.

"Our tools open up whole new chemical space for potential drug targets," says Huw Davies, Emory professor of organic chemistry and senior author of the paper.

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

70th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting: Around 70 Laureates set to meet with young scientists from approx. 100 countries

12.02.2020 | Event News

11th Advanced Battery Power Conference, March 24-25, 2020 in Münster/Germany

16.01.2020 | Event News

Laser Colloquium Hydrogen LKH2: fast and reliable fuel cell manufacturing

15.01.2020 | Event News

 
Latest News

A genetic map for maize

24.02.2020 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

Where is the greatest risk to our mineral resource supplies?

24.02.2020 | Earth Sciences

Computer vision is used for boosting pest control efficacy via sterile insect technique

24.02.2020 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>