A Drexel professor helped make the best-ever 3D video of very tiny organelles - Technical.ly Philly

Sciences

Jun. 1, 2017 12:23 pm

A Drexel professor helped make the best-ever 3D video of very tiny organelles

A scientific paper published this week in the journal Nature explains the process.
A deeeeep look at living cells.

A deeeeep look at living cells.

(Screenshot via YouTube)

Correction: An earlier version of this story described the videos as "the first-ever." Other 3D videos of organelles have been made before, but the ones referenced in this story offer "a previously unavailable level of clarity and detail." (6/1/17, 12:58 p.m.)

Drexel University professor and researcher Andrew Cohen was part of an interdisciplinary research project that broke scientific ground this week. His 10-person team made the best-ever 3D microscopic videos of organelles in a live cell.

(Before you keep reading: what are organelles? It’s ok, we didn’t know either. Organelles are the super tiny specialized structures that makeup each cell in your body. Names that may ring a bell from biology class are the mitochondria and the Golgi apparatus.)

The study, published Wednesday in scientific journal Nature, details how the team made the visualizations possible through a series of microscopic techniques. While there have been similar videos made before, these offer a previously unavailable level of clarity and detail.

Backed by the National Institute of Health and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the research team features prominent cell researcher Jennifer Lippincott-Schwartz and Eric Betzig, the 2014 Nobel Prize winner for chemistry.

The computational analysis for the study was done at Drexel, with Cohen’s Computational Image Sequence Analysis Lab at the forefront. In basic terms, the team applied an in-house image tracking algorithms to automate the identification and tracking of the very tiny organelles.

Here’s one of the mind-blowing videos in time-lapse:

Advertisement

And here’s another, focusing on six specific organelles separately:

So, for the scientific perspective, why does Cohen feel the study is relevant?

“Goodness gracious!” Cohen said. “This is an indication of where we’re going. It’s an indication of the promise of bringing together biology, microscopy and computational groups. The ability to combine these elements lets biologists see what they couldn’t see before. It’s an unprecedented view inside the living cell.”

Cohen thinks the study is also great for Philly, where the biology community is sizable thanks to anchor institutions like Drexel and the University of Pennsylvania.

As with all dense scientific studies, the question from the average layman is: what’s the practical application? Stem cell research and cancer therapy are two areas where the new technique might be impactful down the line, Cohen said.

“[The biggest impact] is being able to observe the cells’ behaviors over time and quantify it in a way that helps us gain insight into how normal cells are expected to develop, at what time they change when there’s a disease,” Cohen said.

In a follow-up paper to come later this year, Cohen will be detailing the tools used to create the visualizations and will be releasing them as open source to the entire scientific community.

Companies: Drexel University
-30-
CONTRIBUTE TO THE
JOURNALISM FUND

Already a contributor? Sign in here
Connect with companies from the Technical.ly community
New call-to-action

Advertisement

Hopeworks by the numbers: More than 1,500 kids trained in the last three years

Blackfynn expands partnership with the Michael J. Fox Foundation

Science Center just gave $700K to support four local researchers

SPONSORED

Philly

Building conference rooms for the future

Philadelphia

Vistar Media

Sr. Software Engineer

Apply Now

Philadelphia

Vistar Media

Front End Engineer

Apply Now

Philadelphia

Inspire

Manager, People Operations

Apply Now

How to sustain momentum in the fight against cancer

This scary simulator from Bluecadet nukes your hometown

Peep this #dataviz of Mayor Kenney’s FY19 budget proposal

SPONSORED

Philly

Say ‘Ahoy’ to the technical opportunities at Vanguard

Philadelphia, PA - Center City

Odessa

Customer Success Manager

Apply Now

Philadelphia

Linode

Systems Engineer

Apply Now

Philadelphia

The Philadelphia Inquirer

Interactive Developer

Apply Now

Sign-up for daily news updates from Technical.ly Philadelphia

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!