The transparent organism

Mar 31, 2005

A novel high-tech microscope will be brought to the marketplace, giving laboratories everywhere fascinating new insights into living organisms. EMBLEM Technology Transfer GmbH [EMBLEM], the commercial entity of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory [EMBL], announced today that it has signed a licensing deal with technological leader Carl Zeiss to commercialize a new technology called SPIM [Selective Plane Illumination Microscopy].

"Microscopes have to evolve to keep up with the demands of modern science," says Ernst Stelzer, whose group at EMBL developed SPIM. "Molecular biology has graduated upwards from studying single molecules – now we need to watch complex, three-dimensional processes in whole, living organisms. SPIM allows us to do that with unprecedented quality."

In a series of technical innovations, Stelzer and his colleagues [in particular Jim Swoger and Jan Huisken] have made it possible to make three-dimensional films of the inner workings of living organisms at a much higher level of detail than ever before.

One innovation of SPIM is the illumination of a sample from the side rather than along the traditional view of the microscope lens. This eliminates a problem that has plagued three-dimensional microscopy in the past: researchers could obtain excellent resolution in the plane of the microscope slide, but resolution along the direction of the viewer was very fuzzy. In SPIM, a sample is passed through a thin sheet of light, capturing high-quality images layer-by-layer. The sample can be rotated and viewed along different directions, further eliminating the blurry and unwanted light which prevented scientists from looking deep into tissues in the past. The entire procedure is very fast and in a computer supported post-processing step, one or more stacks of images are assembled into a highresolution film.

Another advantage of SPIM is that the specimen is kept alive in a liquid-filled chamber, allowing scientists to track developmental processes like the formation of eyes and the brain in embryonic fish or other model organisms.

The presentation of SPIM at scientific conferences has generated a flood of requests for the instrument.

"We were extremely pleased to have found Carl Zeiss as an excellent partner to translate this technology into a product," says Dr. Martin Raditsch, Deputy Managing Director of EMBLEM.

EMBL Director-General Prof. Fotis Kafatos and EMBL Group Leader Dr. Ernst Stelzer met with the Member of the Executive Board of the Carl Zeiss Group, Dr. Norbert Gorny and with the Executive Vice President and General Manager of the Business Group Microscopy from Carl Zeiss, Dr. Ulrich Simon, last month to finalize the details.

"We see the SPIM technology as an ideal approach for satisfying the growing demand in highly resolved image information from living organisms. The products based on this technology will form a perfect match with our lines of confocal and multiphoton 3D-imaging systems," says Dr. Simon.

Source: European Molecular Biology Laboratory

Explore further: Scientists demonstrate Stokes drift principle

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Are the world's religions ready for ET?

12 minutes ago

In 1930, Albert Einstein was asked for his opinion about the possibility of life elsewhere in the universe. "Other beings, perhaps, but not men," he answered. Then he was asked whether science and religion ...

Blades of grass inspire advance in organic solar cells

13 minutes ago

Using a bio-mimicking analog of one of nature's most efficient light-harvesting structures, blades of grass, an international research team led by Alejandro Briseno of the University of Massachusetts Amherst ...

Study shows how chimpanzees share skills

52 minutes ago

Evidence of new behaviour being adopted and transmitted socially from one individual to another within a wild chimpanzee community is publishing on September 30 in the open access journal PLOS Biology. This i ...

How dinosaur arms turned into bird wings

52 minutes ago

Although we now appreciate that birds evolved from a branch of the dinosaur family tree, a crucial adaptation for flight has continued to puzzle evolutionary biologists. During the millions of years that elapsed, wrists went ...

Group: Wildlife populations down drastically

20 hours ago

Populations of about 3,000 species of wildlife around the world have plummeted far worse than previously thought, according to a new study by one of the world's biggest environmental groups.

Recommended for you

Scientists demonstrate Stokes drift principle

2 hours ago

In nature, waves – such as those in the ocean – begin as local oscillations in the water that spread out, ripple fashion, from their point of origin. But fans of Star Trek will recall a different sort of wave pattern: ...

Entanglement made tangible

22 hours ago

EPFL scientists have designed a first-ever experiment for demonstrating quantum entanglement in the macroscopic realm. Unlike other such proposals, the experiment is relatively easy to set up and run with existing semiconductor ...

User comments : 0