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New moving images of cell action

New University of Copenhagen technology allows high resolution images inside tiny cells. This could help find the cure for several diseases

Until now, good live images of cell and their vesicles – the bubble of liquid within cells – has eluded researchers. Now, scientists from the University of Copenhagen have succeeded producing the first hi-resolution live recording, writes US science website

Human body cells’ communicate with one another via the ‘vesicle’, a little ball packed with biological material. Disruption of this communication process is responsible for many diseases and mental disorders such as depression.

Understanding schizophrenia

New imaging developed at the University of Copenhagen’s Nano-Science Centre could help the study of diseases like schizophrenia and Huntington’s that result from this failure of vesicle-cell interaction.

The researchers use a new method in the technology of FRET or Fluorescence Resonance Energy Transfer. To record the union of cell and vesicle, the researchers created vesicles and cell membranes with half of a fluorescent compound. When the two fused together, the fluorescent compound became whole, thereby emitting light.

New sensing method

Sensors detected the light, and a computer analyzed the qualities of the light to determine the shape of the vesicle during fusion.

»We have lacked a method for measuring the fusion of vesicle and membrane on a nano-scale at the moment the process occurs. Until now it has only been possible to get a still image of the process with high resolution, or live images with low resolution,« explains Dimitrios Stamou, Associate Professor at the University of Copenhagen’s Nano-Science Centre.

»With the new method we can quantify the changes in vesicle shape live, i.e. during fusion, and with nanoscale resolution,« he adds.

Biochemical language

As of now the technology has only been tried out in a laboratory setting. If a similar process could be applied to a living, working, organism it would allow sensors to go beyond the crude measurement of electrical signals.

This would allow researchers to make real time, high resolution, recordings of the brain and body’s own, biochemical language.