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Scientists use super microscope to pinpoint body’s immunity 'switch'

s rolling amplification. The signalling station is like a docking port or an airport with vesicles like planes landing and taking off. The process allows a few receptors to activate a cell and then trigger the entire immune response," she said.

PhD candidate David Williamson, whose research formed the basis of the paper, said the discovery showed what could be achieved with the new generation of super-resolution fluorescence microscopes.

"In conventional microscopy, all the target molecules are lit up at once and individual molecules become lost amongst their neighbours it's like trying to follow a conversation in a crowd where everyone is talking at once.

"With our microscope we can make the target molecules light up one at a time and precisely determine their location while their neighbours remain dark. This 'role call' of all the target molecules means we can then build a 'super resolution' image of the sample," he said.

The next step was to pinpoint other key proteins to get a complete picture of T-cell activity and to extend the microscope to capture 3-D images with the same unprecedented resolution.

"Being able to see the behaviour and function of individual molecules in a live cell is the equivalent of seeing atoms for the first time. It could change the whole concept of molecular and cell biology," Mr Williamson said.


Contact: Dr. Katharina Gaus
University of New South Wales

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