BUFFALO, N.Y. – Apoptosis, programmed cell death, is essential to normal development, healthy immune system function, and cancer prevention. The process dramatically transforms cellular structures but the limitations of conventional microscopy methods have kept much about this structural reorganization a mystery.
Now, in research featured on the cover of the current issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, University at Buffalo scientists have developed a biophotonic imaging approach capable of monitoring in real-time the transformations that cellular macromolecules undergo during programmed cell death.
The work could help realize the potential of customized molecular medicine, in which chemotherapy, for example, can be precisely targeted to cellular changes exhibited by individual patients. It can also be a valuable drug development tool for screening new compounds.
“This new ability provides us with a dynamic mapping of the transformations occurring in the cell at the molecular level,” says study co-author Paras N. Prasad, PhD, executive director of the UB Institute for Lasers, Photonics and Biophotonics (ILPB) and SUNY Distinguished Professor in the departments of Chemistry, Physics, Electrical Engineering and Medicine. “It provides us with a very clear visual picture of the dynamics of proteins, DNA, RNA and lipids during the cell’s disintegration.”