FEMTOSECOND LASERS/BIOIMAGING: 'Molecular movie' technology promises life sciences discoveries

A powerful new imaging technology involving femtosecond laser pulses and bioluminescent proteins is fast enough to observe life processes as they happen at the molecular level, according to the researchers who devised it.1 "With this technology, we're going to be able to slow down the observation of living processes and understand the exact sequences of biochemical reactions," says Chong Fang, an assistant professor of chemistry at Oregon State University (OSU; Corvallis, OR) and leader of the research team, which also involves scientists at the University of Alberta (Edmonton, AB, Canada). "We believe this is the first time ever that you can really see chemistry in action inside a biosensor," he says.

The new approach offers sufficient speed to allow scientists to "see" what is happening at the molecular level and create whatever kind of sensor they want by rational design. This will improve the study of, for example, cell metabolism to nerve impulses, how a flu virus infects a person, or how a malignant tumor spreads.

The technology, for instance, can follow the proton transfer associated with the movement of calcium ions—one of the most basic aspects of almost all living systems and also one of the fastest. This movement of protons is integral to everything from respiration to cell metabolism and plant photosynthesis. Scientists will now be able to identify what is going on, one step at a time, and then use that knowledge to create customized biosensors for improved imaging of life processes.

Fang explains, "We're making molecular movies. And with this, we're going to be able to create sensors that answer some important, new questions in biophysics, biochemistry, materials science, and biomedical problems."

1. B. G. Oscar et al., Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci., 111, 28, 10191–10196 (2014); doi:10.1073/pnas.1403712111.

Get All the BioOptics World News Delivered to Your Inbox

Subscribe to BioOptics World Magazine or email newsletter today at no cost and receive the latest news and information.

 Subscribe Now
Related Articles

New bioimaging technique offers clear view of nervous system

Scientists at Ludwig-Maximilians University have developed a technique for turning the body of a deceased rodent entirely transparent, revealing the central nervous system in unprecedented clarity....

Fluorescent jellyfish proteins light up unconventional laser

Safer lasers to map your cells could soon be in the offing -- all thanks to the humble jellyfish. Conventional lasers, like the pointer you might use to entertain your cat, produce light by emittin...

Microscope detects one million-plus biomarkers for sepsis in 30 minutes

A microscope has the potential to simultaneously detect more than one million biomarkers for sepsis at the point of care.

Eye test that pairs two in vivo imaging methods may detect Parkinson's earlier

A low-cost, noninvasive eye test pairs two in vivo imaging methods to help detect Parkinson's before clinical symptoms appear.


Neuro15 exhibitors meet exacting demands: Part 2

Increasingly, neuroscientists are working with researchers in disciplines such as chemistry and p...

Why be free?

A successful career contributed to keeping OpticalRayTracer—an optical design software program—fr...

LASER Munich 2015 is bio-bent

LASER World of Photonics 2015 included the European Conferences on Biomedical Optics among its si...

White Papers

Understanding Optical Filters

Optical filters can be used to attenuate or enhance an image, transmit or reflect specific wavele...

How can I find the right digital camera for my microscopy application?

Nowadays, image processing is found in a wide range of optical microscopy applications. Examples ...



Twitter- BioOptics World

Copyright © 2007-2016. PennWell Corporation, Tulsa, OK. All Rights Reserved.PRIVACY POLICY | TERMS AND CONDITIONS