It has been just revealed the fact that MIT managed to revolutionize cellular imaging. They now see the activity inside a living cell in a new way.
MIT revolutionizes cellular imaging
Scientists at MIT have developed a new method to study how molecules in a cell interact to control the cell’s behavior.
By using fluorescent labels that switch on and off, they can measure the signals that influence a cell’s behavior and how it responds to them through downstream molecular signaling networks.
This could help researchers learn more about how cells work, including what happens as they age or become diseased.
Currently, imaging techniques are limited to just a few different molecule types within a cell at one time. However, the new method allows scientists to observe up to seven different molecules at a time, and potentially even more than that.
“There are many examples in biology where an event triggers a long downstream cascade of events, which then causes a specific cellular function,” says Edward Boyden, the Y. Eva Tan Professor in Neurotechnology.
“How does that occur? It’s arguably one of the fundamental problems of biology, and so we wondered, could you simply watch it happen?”
A new method has been developed that utilizes green or red fluorescent molecules which flicker at different rates. By imaging a cell over a period of time and using a computational algorithm, the amount of each target protein can be tracked as it changes over time.
The study was published on November 28 in the journal Cell, with MIT professor Edward Boyden as the senior author and MIT postdoc Yong Qian as the lead author.
Boyden is also a professor of biological engineering and of brain and cognitive sciences at MIT, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, and a member of MIT’s McGovern Institute for Brain Research and Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, as well as the co-director of the K. Lisa Yang Center for Bionics.
The researchers have discovered a method that can be useful in observing how cells respond to various inputs, such as nutrients, immune system factors, hormones, or neurotransmitters. This method can also be used to study how cells react to changes in gene expression or genetic mutations.
All of these factors are crucial in biological phenomena like growth, aging, cancer, neurodegeneration, and memory formation. This discovery can help in understanding how cells function in the human body.