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Fluorescence recovery after photobleaching technique enables measurement and interpretation of the dynamics of cell molecules in 3D

13 May 2022

3D Vision

You can’t fix a broken car without looking inside to see what’s going on with the engine. Understanding the inner workings of our cells is also a key step in establishing processes underpinning both healthy function and disease. A technique called fluorescence recovery after photobleaching (FRAP) visualises the movement of molecules within cells, showing the progression of fluorescently labelled molecules across a thin film. Cells in our bodies are not flat slivers, however, so a new approach combines FRAP with other microscopy approaches and simulations to produce 3-dimensional visualisations, such as the T-cells pictured, showing the flow of the structural protein actin along the cell surface. Watching and quantitatively measuring the movement of molecules within cells shows how fundamental processes occur, what changes in this natural dynamic when disease or malfunction sets in, and perhaps even how new drugs or treatments affect the internal goings on.

Written by Anthony Lewis

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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