Top Rounded Image
21 February 2013 University of Strathclyde

Resolution revolution receives significant cash boost

Strathclyde plays a crucial role in microscope revolution

Professor Gail McConnell
Professor Gail McConnell.
Image Credit: Centre for Biophotonics, University of Strathclyde.

Biomedical research across the UK – including a pioneering University of Strathclyde project – is to benefit from a £25.5 million cash injection to boost the resolution revolution in microscope technology.

Three of the UK's research councils - the Medical Research Council (MRC), the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council – have invested £20.1 million, £2.4 million and £2 million respectively, to establish 17 microscopy platforms that will bring about ground-breaking advances in biological and biomedical research.

These include a £1.7 million MRC award to a Strathclyde team led by Professor Gail McConnell, of the Centre for Biophotonics, to develop a prototype of a unique lens capable of producing stunning, laser-scanned 3D images of disease tissues, with sufficient detail to see inside individual cells.

These include a £1.7 million MRC award to a Strathclyde team led by Professor Gail McConnell, of the Centre for Biophotonics, to develop a prototype of a unique lens capable of producing stunning, laser-scanned 3D images of disease tissues, with sufficient detail to see inside individual cells.

David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science, said: “These substantial funding awards will bring together the UK’s world-class research base and industry to keep our life sciences sector at the forefront of discovery. Through exploring innovative new uses for microscopy they will improve our understanding of disease and ultimately deliver benefits for patients.”

Professor Steve Hill, who chaired the expert panel which assessed the proposals, said: “Microscopy is one of the most important tools scientists have for discovery-based research but the high costs associated with this technology are often a barrier to expansion. This funding is crucial to help the UK capitalise on the latest technologies and maintain its internationally leading position in biological and biomedical research.

”This type of microscopy relies on scientists in very different disciplines coming together to solve very specific imaging problems. All 17 projects were able to demonstrate extremely strong partnerships between biologists, physicists, chemists, mathematicians, engineers, technologists and equipment manufacturers.”

Many of the initiatives funded by the three research councils combine different and sometimes entirely new microscopy techniques to answer crucial questions about biological processes. The revolution builds dramatically on the previous limits of electron and light – or optical – microscopy. Electron microscopy has very high resolution but cannot be used to produce images of living cells or organisms. Traditional light microscopy can look at living materials but has far lower resolution.

The new generation of imaging techniques are now able to greatly increase the resolution – sometimes to close to molecular level – when studying an intact, living cell. These structures are some of the smallest things that scientists have been able to visualise: for example, a cell membrane is about six to 10 nanometres – and a nanometre is one millionth of a millimetre.

As well as increasing the magnification, researchers are now able to study live biological processes as they are taking place, at fractions of a second. Being able to visualise these tiny biological structures, such as the proteins involved in cell function and the biological and chemical processes in which they are involved, will allow researchers to understand more about what causes disease.

Source: University of Strathclyde /...

Previous Story: Nanosensors detect mutation to support skin cancer therapy
Next Story: Forget banking, be a nano-medic

Bookmark and Share

Leave a Comment

The Institute of Nanotechnology puts significant effort into ensuring that the information provided on its news pages is accurate and up-to-date. However, we cannot guarantee absolute accuracy. Consequently, the Institute of Nanotechnology disclaims any and all responsibility for inaccuracy, omission or any kind of deficiency in relation to the news items and articles hosted herein.

Bottom Rounded Image