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Surprising Science

New Microscope Could Unlock D.N.A.’s Secrets

In an advancement in biotechnology, a new microscope has allowed researchers to watch molecules move within a cell on a millisecond-by-millisecond time scale for the first time.

What’s the Latest Development?

A new microscope developed by a group of German biophysicists will allow scientists to look at how molecules interact within human cells on a millisecond-by-millisecond time scale. “Current microscopy techniques can home in on a single spot within a cell, but they can miss vital information when the focus moves from one spot to another.” For the first time ever, researchers will be able to track how cellular protein molecules interact with each other thanks to the new microscope which offers both high sensitivity and fast processing time.

What’s the Big Idea?

Though the structure of D.N.A. was correctly modeled over fifty years ago, scientists still do not fully understand how cellular proteins drive processes like transcription, i.e. the method by which D.N.A. is expressed. “Understanding how proteins interact with each other is what everybody’s interested in, in terms of trying to decipher cell biochemistry,” said one cell biologist not directly involved with the new research. Because the microscope requires a great deal of light to function, whether the light disturbs the biology of the cell is a lingering question. 


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