It might appear like a classic 8-bit video game, but the vibrant, pixelated colours in this image of skin cells belie the exquisite detail it reveals at the molecular level.
Researcher Rachel and colleagues are using cutting-edge microscopy techniques to better understand how a self-destruct sequence called apoptosis proceeds inside healthy and diseased cells.
Fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy (FLIM) detects and counts light particles or photons emitted by fluorescent dyes and can distinguish different photons by their emission decay time or ‘lifetime’. Researchers can use this property to detect and display small molecular changes within a cell in vivid detail.
Unpacking the cell’s self-destruct mechanism will enable the development of new precision medicines that work by promoting or inhibiting cell death in conditions including cancer and neurodegenerative disorders.