Maastricht Economic and social Research and  training centre on Innovation and Technology

Levelling Latin America
Mining innovation can bring more sustainable and inclusive growth, especially across the Americas…

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  • A mystery source is producing banned ozone-destroying chemicals
  • Water filter inspired by Alan Turing passes first test
  • Scientists transplant memory from one snail to another
  • In an interplanetary first, NASA to fly a helicopter on Mars
  • Facebook privacy: Europe to press Zuckerberg
  • Israeli researchers abuzz about orgasmic fruit flies
  • Cutting-edge microscope spies on living cells inside the body
    A microscope that combines two imaging techniques now allows researchers to capture 3D videos of living cells inside organisms.

    The approach addresses long-standing problems with imaging cells in living tissue. Because of how light interacts with different shapes and materials, trying to get a picture of a cell alongside its neighbours is like looking through a bag of marbles. To produce crisp images, conventional microscopes often isolate their subjects on a glass slide or bombard them with potentially harmful amounts of light.

    The new technique developed by scientists from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Ashburn, Virginia, lets researchers observe cells in their natural habitat.

    To produce their images the team avoid the intense light that conventional microscopes use, because that can damage or kill living cells. Instead, the team uses a technique called lattice light-sheet microscopy, which minimises cellular damage by repeatedly passing a thin sheet of light up and down living tissue at high speed.

    To keep the cell's surroundings from distorting the view, the researchers use adaptive optics. Their technique, based on one often used to correct astronomical images, shines a laser through the target tissue. Comparing the beam's appearance before and after it passes through the material allows the microscope to counter the distortion and correct the image.

    With this technology, researchers can peer inside organisms to capture interactions between cells in 3D with never-before-seen resolution. The current set-up covers a 3-metre table, but the group is working on making it smaller and more user-friendly.

    Nature    April 19, 2018