Novel Microscope Combines Imaging Techniques for 3D Visualization of Cells

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Scientists from Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Janelia Research Campus have developed a microscope, which combines two imaging techniques to capture live 3-D images of cells

Microscopes are used to observe the functions of cells to examine the activities in 3-D, even when viewing individual cells. Although scientists have used microscopes to image live cells for centuries, the clearest have been achieved using glass slides to isolate cells. The research was published in the journal Science and was led by physicist Eric Betzig According to Betzig, these microscopes expose the cells to light that is a million times more severe than the desert sun. “This also contributes to our fear that we are not seeing cells in their natural, unstressed form”, said Betzig. This novel technology is integrated combination of two microscopes in one, which includes an adaptive optical system for generation of images free of distortion and an additional adaptive optical system for maintaining thin illumination of a lattice light sheet during imaging.

As a part of the study, the team used adaptive optics to unscramble light from cells embedded within organisms. They employed lattice light sheet microscopy to rapidly capture the internal choreography of the cells. This allowed them to sweep an ultra-thin sheet of light through a cell. The microscope was found to be useful in visualization of cancer cell in transit within a blood vessel and its attempt to bond itself to the vessel wall. Betzig says that although the intricacies of the 3-D multicellular environment can be daunting, his groups imaging allows them to computationally examine individual cells in tissue to observe the dynamics in a specific one. Furthermore, researchers will focus on a method to produce the technology in an inexpensive and easy to use format.

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