NTU Launches Cryo-Electron Microscopy Lab

Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University has launched a cryo-electron microscopy lab to study molecular structures half a million times smaller than a grain of rice.

AsianScientist (Oct. 28, 2013) – Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University (NTU) has launched an electron microscopy lab led by Professor Daniela Rhodes of the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine.

The NTU Cryo-Electron Microscopy Laboratory will be equipped with an advanced cryo transmission electron microscope fitted with the latest detector and camera, which is ten times more sensitive than a regular electron microscopy camera.

Cryo-electron microscopy (CryoEM) is a technique of imaging biological samples in a frozen but unchanged state, and is advantageous because it can capture single particles of protein, cells and tissue sections, as well as the chromosomes and viruses inside cells.

The new microscope, the Tecnai Arctica, is developed by FEI, a manufacturer of cryo electron microscopes. It will allow for high-resolution 3D imaging of molecular structures half a million times smaller than a grain of rice (ten nanometers).

The NTU CryoEM lab will also be equipped with an integrated light microscope for correlative light and electron microscopy imaging for cell biology applications.

Rhodes’ research group will use the microscopes to study the role of telomeres – structures that cap the ends of chromosomes – in cancer development and aging. They will also study the structure and function of telomerase, a key enzyme that repairs telomeres, which allow chromosomes and cells to replicate themselves infinitely and a hallmark of cancer.

“It is our hope that with such powerful instruments, we can make new discoveries. Only by understanding the inner workings of proteins and enzymes related to aging and cancer, can we start to look for and to develop solutions to treat such conditions,” said Rhodes.


Source: NTU; Photo: FEI/CC.
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