3D microscopes give doctors an edge

July 10, 2008 7:30:04 PM PDT
Bay Area researchers are getting an amazingly detailed look into the innermost workings of the human body. It's the result of a new type of microscope developed in part at UCSF.

The colorful three dimensional video is the clearest view inside a cell's nucleus ever seen with a conventional microscope. Researchers at UCSF say it's just the beginning.

"We're on the early phases of a revolution with light microscopy. This information will be critical in understanding why cancer is such a problem, and why birth defects are such a problem," says Dr. John Sedat from UCSF.

The resolution of a microscope that uses light is usually limited by the wavelength of the light. But, as published in the Journal of Science, a consortium of researchers in the United States and Germany tricked light with screen like grids that focus it into patterns.

"And if you can take multiple images now, with different patterns of light, you can computationally turn that information into higher resolution," says Dr. Sedat.

Right now, the new technique can't handle living samples in real time, but it's fast enough that researchers believe that window into the innermost workings of our cells could be next.

"The ability to see things with unprecedented resolution, you know, happening at the speed the biology's happening will open a lot of new vistas that just have not been possible in past. And there are a lot of people who would love to get their hands on one, and now they can," says Dr. Sedat.

Hopefully, it will give biologists a new window into diseases.


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