The MIT Tech Review is reporting on a new way to image live cells — using tomographic refractive microscopy:
As light passes through a cell, its direction and wavelength shift. Different parts of the cell refract light in different ways, so the MIT microscope can show the parts in all their detail… The microscope creates three-dimensional images by combining many pictures of a cell taken from several different angles. It currently takes only a tenth of a second to generate each three-dimensional image, fast enough to watch cells respond in real time.
…Using Feld’s microscope, “you can capture cells in their natural environment and see how they respond to changes,” says Maryann Fitzmaurice, associate professor of pathology at Case Western Reserve University. “Otherwise you just get a snapshot in time of a cell.” Fitzmaurice says that because the technique is so new, it’s not clear what researchers will learn about cells by looking at refraction images. “It’s a very basic technique, with a lot of potential uses,” she says. One potential application may be in drug screening tests in live cells. Researchers could dose cells with a potential therapeutic compound and use the microscope to watch their response.
If they’re having trouble imagining uses for this new microscope, we have a few ideas. Cell adhesion and motility studies are still in need of ways to make live imaging rival the clarity and usefulness of fixing and staining.
More from MIT.
Video in Real (.ram) format…
MIT Spectroscopy Lab