For the first time, scientists have peered into living cells and created videos showing how they function with unprecedented 3D detail. Using a special microscope and new lighting techniques, a team from Harvard and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute captured zebrafish immune cell interactions with unheard-of 3D detail and resolution. The tech has already yielded new insights on cell function and could transform our understanding of how organisms function at the smallest scales.
“Every time we’ve done an experiment with this microscope, we’ve observed something novel — and generated new ideas and hypotheses to test,” said study co-author and Harvard professor Tomas Kirchhausen. “It can be used to study almost any problem in a biological system or organism I can think of.”
Imaging on such small scales normally requires intense light levels that can kill the organism being studied. Instead, the team used a technique called “latice light-sheet microscopy,” which involves rapidly passing sheets of light across living tissue, leaving it undamaged.