[ASC-media] Media release- lighting up cells to see disease
felicity at freeradical.org.au
Wed Oct 18 08:32:27 CEST 2006
LIGHTING UP CELLS TO SEE DISEASE
Australian scientists have devised a new method to see the damage
that diseases, such as cancer, cause in our living cells by making
the cells light up.
Dr Steve Bottle and his team, from the ARC Centre of Excellence for
Free Radical Chemistry and Biotechnology, have taken the principle of
fluorescence, which occurs when samples are exposed to certain types
of light, and applied it to human cells.
With the right treatment our cells can produce tiny amounts of
fluorescent light. Dr Bottle and his team have made new fluorescent
compounds with one important difference-the presence of a component
that short-circuits the fluorescence so that initially no light is
emitted and so the cells stay dark.
"What makes these new compounds exciting", says Dr Bottle, "is that
this short-circuit effect is removed by the action of free radicals
during cellular metabolism and the fluorescence then becomes switched
on-thus lighting up the parts of the cell where the radicals are
Free radicals are highly reactive fragments of molecules that can
damage many biological molecules including DNA, proteins and fats.
For this reason they have been proposed as key damaging agents in
some cancers, in the ageing process, and in heart disease. The highly
reactive nature of free radicals, has made them very difficult to
detect up to now, but this new technique provides a powerful new way
of seeing them in our cells. This will lead to a better understanding
of free radical damage and possible ways of restricting it.
The Dr Bottle's technique will soon be used by Professor Mike Davies
from the Heart Research Institute in Sydney, who is also part of the
same ARC Centre of Excellence, to visualise the effects of free
radical damage to proteins in the development of heart disease. "One
thing that has been hindering research in this area is a good means
to see and measure the impact of damaging free radicals in heart
disease," says Professor Davies "This new technique gives a real
chance of achieving this goal".
There are other applications for this new technique outside the human
body as free radicals are also responsible for the degradation of
paints and surface coating. "Applications for this technique are wide
ranging", says Dr Bottle "and this new tool will contribute to
further advances in biotechnology, material science, and medicine for
which Australia is renowned."
Full media release, background information and photos on the COMMUNITY PAGES of
www.freeradical.org.au or contact felicity at freeradical.org.au or
0404 804 383
The ARC Centre of Excellence for Free Radical Chemistry has nodes at
the University of Melbourne, The Australian National University,
Heart Research Institute (The University of Sydney), Queensland
University of Technology, and the Victorian Pharmacy College (Monash
University) and over 100 associates. For more information on the
Centre see www.freeradical.org.au
Community Awareness Programme Manager
ARC Centre of Excellence for Free Radical Chemistry and Biotechnology
The University of Melbourne, 3010
Tel: +61 3 8344 2427
Mob: 0404 804 384
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