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Cell exploration 3D microscope offers window to cell behaviour

Nanolive microscope

The microscope comes with the claim that it will give a better understanding of how cells react to drugs.

( / Alain Herzog)

Scientists will be better able to see how living cells function thanks to a new automated 3D microscope that allows observation without the use of stains or markers, says a Swiss company that has produced the device.

Nanolive, a spin-off company from Lausanne’s Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL), says its microscope can zoom in to individual organelles to a resolution of less than 200 nanometres. One nanometre is one billionth of a metre.

More importantly, the microscope’s rotational scanning constructs 3D holographic images that display organelles in colour. This does away with the need to apply markers that damage or destroy cells, meaning they can be observed for longer periods.

This will enable scientists to observe how “biological processes work, how organelles interact and how mitochondria form intricate networks”, a press release statesexternal link.

“This paves the way to important discoveries that until now have been insufficiently understood because of the lack of a reliable way to observe them.”

For example, it will be possible to better see how cells respond to drugs or genetic mutations.

Nanoliveexternal link, which is headquartered at EPFL’s innovation park in western Switzerland, came out with its first products in 2015 and plans to hire 15 new staff this year.

“We want to support the study of how living cells and bacteria work, evolve and react, thus building a solid base for new drugs and therapies, in order to enable breakthrough researches,” the company states on its website.

swissinfo.ch/mga

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