martes, 7 de enero de 2014

Researchers Japan find damage-free way to observe internal cell structures

Japanese scientists say they have developed the world’s first method to observe a live cell without damaging its internal structure.

The researchers said the procedure, using free-electron X-ray laser technology, will help advance an understanding of intracellular phenomena, such as the mechanism of cell division.

By further improving performance, we will be able to take a look at smaller objects, as well as make closer observations of them,” said Yoshinori Nishino, an electronic science professor at Hokkaido University, who led the research team.

The team used the SACLA state-of-the-art X-ray facility in Hyogo Prefecture to expose bacteria, each 600 nanometers long, to a single dose of X-ray for 100-trillionth of a second. A nanometer is one-billionth of a meter.
An image taken at the SACLA X-ray facility in Hyogo Prefecture reveals a living cell’s internal structures. (Provided by Yoshinori Nishino)
An image taken at the SACLA X-ray facility in Hyogo Prefecture reveals a live cell’s internal structures. (Provided by Yoshinori Nishino)

It has been impossible to observe live cells using a conventional X-ray device because they become severely damaged. The new method also eliminates the need to fix cells’ internal structures with resin and stain them when using electron microscopy techniques.

The SACLA facility, set up by the RIKEN research institute and others at a cost of 39 billion yen ($372 million), enabled Nishino’s team to capture an image of bacteria almost free from damage.

According to the scientists, substances that appeared to be a gathering of DNA, the molecule that encodes genetic information, could be observed in the cells.

The findings were published in the British scientific journal Nature Communications on Jan. 7.

By JIN NISHIKAWA/ Staff Writer
January 08, 2014

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