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Posted: May 25, 2011

New nanoscopy platforms set up to study human diseases such as cancer at the nano-level

(Nanowerk News) A*STAR's Institute of Medical Biology (IMB) and Olympus Singapore, a leader in high precision microscope technology, jointly launched the IMB-Olympus Microscopy Suite in IMB. This suite, equipped with state-of-the-art microscopes with nano-imaging capabilities, will allow scientists to see individual proteins inside a living cell, which is not possible with conventional microscopy. This collaboration with Olympus Singapore will lay the foundation for IMB to develop a comprehensive nanoscopy platform, which is the first in the world for biomedical research.
Scientists at IMB will be able to use the advanced microscopes in the IMB-Olympus Microscopy Suite to:
  • study molecular interactions in living biological systems;
  • study human diseases, including cancer, aging, neurodegeneration and pathogenesis, at nanometer- range resolution;
  • develop effective drugs at a much faster rate; and
  • develop new diagnostic tools and therapies.
  • Said Dr Sohail Ahmed, Principal Investigator of IMB and the team leader who spearheaded this IMB-Olympus collaboration, "The use of nano-imaging technologies to study living biological samples is an emerging field in modern biology." Nano-imaging (nanoscopy) techniques have so far been mostly limited to use in materials science and chemistry research, to analyze non-living samples such as the characterization of miniature photonic crystals found in solar cells, because the techniques required are so harsh that living cells cannot survive them.
    However with this nanoscopy platform in the IMB-Olympus Microscopy Suite, scientists at IMB will be able to study how biological molecules work inside live cells in real time, without destroying the cells. Dr Ahmed added, "We are entering an exciting time in biology where we are now able to peer inside a living cell to see how individual protein interact with each other or with potential drug molecules."
    Professor Birgitte Lane, Executive Director of IMB, added, "We are very happy to collaborate with Olympus Singapore. Olympus' advanced imaging expertise with the new developments in nanoscopy will help our scientists to develop novel applications for diagnostics, drug design and disease management, which will deepen our capabilities in translational medical research."
    This collaboration is a win-win partnership for both IMB and Olympus Singapore. Said Mr Tadashi Miyamoto, Managing Director of Olympus Singapore, "Olympus Singapore is very pleased to collaborate with a leading scientific research institute such as the Institute of Medical Biology, A*STAR.
    We consider the Asia region as the fastest growing market, and we are working on strengthening our business foundation to expand the market in this region as strong as the one in the US, Europe and Japan in five years. There is no doubt that Southeast Asia, especially Singapore, is one of the most important regions, and I believe that this collaboration will significantly contribute to expanding our life science business. We hope to bring in and develop new technologies which will make the IMB-Olympus Microscopy Suite truly unique."
    6Prof Sir George Radda, Chairman of A*STAR's Biomedical Research Council, said, "The IMB-Olympus Microscopy Suite is an excellent example of how public research institutes can engage in strategic partnership with industry to push the envelope of research. Research collaborations between public research institutes and industry will, no doubt, go far in establishing Singapore as Asia's Innovation Capital and a global research hub, as well as delivering good healthcare to the population in Singapore, the region and the world."
    Source: A*STAR
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