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A new super-resolution microscope is being developed by the EU will allow scientists to ‘see’ the smallest components of individual cells including DNA. The CELLVIEWER project is developing hardware and software for the powerful microscope.
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The project could spell a radical change in the way cellular systems are studied giving scientists a better understanding of biological processes. The equipment is being used in a test case that involves scientists studying the self-renewal and differentiation of individual embryonic stem cells in mice.
Nanoscale understanding could change diagnostics
These stem cells can change into other types of cells. By collecting the information at a nanoscale level, the scientist hopes to be able to develop a model that can predict which stimuli will produce which phenotype in an organism.
Eventually, the researchers will have an understanding of how single mouse embryonic stem cells maintain their ‘stemness’ or commit to differentiation. The project has been running for three years, and scientists have a better understanding of how embryonic stem cells develop into other types of cells.
This research could eventually be applied to regenerative medicine. The CELLVIEWER is likely to become a critical diagnostic tool for future medical purposes.
The project team supporting the development of CELLVIEWER come from a global consortium of leading research institutions and includes internationally recognized experts in the fields of stem cell and chromatin biology, super-resolution microscopy, quantitative modeling of biological systems, and hardware and software development.
Microscope technology improves across the board
Microscope technology is developing at both ends of the spectrum multi-million dollar projects like CELLVIEWER have the potential to change modern medicine. But microscopes at home are also having an impact. Microscope kits that attached to your smartphone are opening doors to budding scientists at home.
But they could also help improve your health. A smartphone microscope developed by Professor Yoshitomo Kobori from the University of Illinois allows men to monitor their sperm count. Want to be fathers can buy the lens that attaches to their phone.
Users then record a video of their sperm sample then send it off to a lab for analysis. The whole process reduces time and cost usually associated with visiting a doctor. Kobori says he was inspired to create the system in response to low birth rates in Japan.
He developed the system using an already existing off the shelf smartphone microscope kit. If you have a good idea for up close imagery, then check out these amazing microscope kits available from the Interesting Engineering store.
The full kit includes a low-magnification lens capable of capturing images as 120x, and a high-magnification lens that lets you view ultra-detailed structures at up to 360x.