05/16/2011

Observing molecules at the nano scale



Scientists at the Reference- and Translation Center for Cardiac Stem Cell Therapy at the University of Rostock (RTC) are now able to visualize molecules with a microscope system with a localization accuracy of up to 10 nm. This is achieved with a new product from Carl Zeiss MicroImaging GmbH, the microscope ELYRA PS.1. Besides Osaka the RTC Rostock is going to be the first user worldwide of a series system based on this technology. The project is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

"Our research deals with the efficacy, safety, and the further development of stem cell therapies against heart diseases. ELYRA will support our research" Prof. Gustav Steinhoff, head of the RTC Rostock, explains. This microscope offers new interesting possibilities, especially for gene-technical and nano-technological approaches with stem cells. To improve the therapeutical efficacy or the survivability after transplantation the cells are genetically modified by using gene transfer systems. The gene transfer is currently conducted with a novel method whose mechanism has not been fully understood yet. Neither, it is known whether the modified cells are exposed to unexpected side effects.With ELYRA PS.1, cell processes in live cells can now be observed and documented on a molecular level for the first time. Before that, it had been possible to image cellular structures with electron microscopy with a spatial resolution of up to 10 nanometers; however, living cells were destroyed in the course of the imaging procedure.

Combining two innovative technologies, SR-SIM und PALM, the ELYRA PS.1 is able to provide super-resolution which has not been available in the fluorescence microscopy technology until today. A doubling of the resolution of a conventional fluorescence microscopy has been achieved with the SR-SIM (Super-resolution Structured Illumination Microscopy) technology. The necessary labeling can be performed with all common fluorescent dyes. The PALM (Photoactivated Localization Microscopy) technology offers a localization accuracy of up to 10 nm using e.g. shiftable fluorescent proteins. The ELYRA PS.1 at the RTC Rostock combines the super-resolution technology with the LSM 780, which is the latest and most effective confocal Laser Scanning Microscope from Carl Zeiss.

Source: idw/Universität Rostock