A powerful microscope, weighing a tonne, that can help in development of better treatment for diseases, including cancer and diabetes, has been unveiled by Australian researchers. The 5 million Australian Dollars Titan Krios cryo-electron microscope is three metres tall and weighs about a tonne. It was unveiled at the Melbourne-based Monash University's new Clive and Vera Ramaciotti Centre for Structural Cryo-Electron Microscopy.
The microscope is said to have the ability to allow researchers to look at the position of individual atoms within molecular structures, according to a report by ABC. James Whisstock, Australian Research Centre's director of advanced molecular imaging, said it could help find better treatments for diseases, including cancer, diabetes and multiple sclerosis. "I think this will be applicable to most of the conditions that affect people as they age.
How, for example, viruses get into cells and how cells go out of control in conditions such as cancer," he said. The microscope works by shooting electrons through a sample. Any beams deflected off the molecule can be used to create a two-dimensional image. Capturing hundreds of samples helps scientists in generating 3D images of molecules, including their loops and sidechains.
Whisstock said the imaging had the potential to transform scientists' understanding of the human immune system. "Electron microscopy has been used for many years to peer at biological life but the pictures we have been getting have been of very low resolution," he said. "But we can now drill down to atomic resolution of extremely complex (biological) machines that cannot be looked at in any other way," he said.