Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Unstill Life

New processing technique means super-resolution microscopy images can be reconstructed and viewed in real time

18 October 2019

Unstill Life

Wanting to know more about the dark world inside our cells, microscopists are usually torn by a choice – do they aim for a detailed 3D picture or capture a quick, but less-detailed video? Super-resolved structured illumination microscopy (SR-SIM), for example, captures high-resolution pictures of the tiniest aspects of a living cell, but these images require processing which usually limits how fast pictures can be snapped. Here though, a new technique uses algorithms to offload the processing work to a separate graphics processing unit – an example of GPU-acceleration captures this image of a living bone cancer cell in a fraction of a second, with its nucleus highlighted in blue, mitochondria (green) and cytoskeleton (pink). Using SR-SIM to take videos has huge potential – from recording the speedy movements of tiny microbes in living cells to allowing researchers to quickly 'screen' samples based on tell-tale signs of health and disease.

Written by John Ankers

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