About Fluorescent Nanoscope
Bringing new insight to the world
Cure AIDS and cancer? We can't see them
Scientists have been investigating the HIV virus and the genes in cancer cells for decades, but their behavior is still poorly understood. Why? Because the behavior of the extremely small HIV virus is described by a number of often contradictory hypotheses, and the key to activity in cancer cells are genes that are too small to be investigated in their “live” state. The obstacle to achieving breakthroughs in the cures for AIDS, cancer and many other diseases is that scientists and researchers literally cannot see the problem. The microscopes they use are not powerful enough to see the beginnings of a cure.
Existing optical microscopes allow a researcher to see living objects and the processes inside them, but these microscopes have a resolution limit of about 200 nanometers (nm), meaning that one cannot resolve the details within an object that are closer to each other than 200 nm. Most viruses are between 20 to 300 nm in size (HIV is 20 nm), and bacteria generally are between 500 to 5000 nm. With an optical microscope the largest bacteria are viewable only as heavily blurred outlines, and even their largest components are not distinguishable. In some cases researchers are able to improve the resolution by genetically modifying an object, but doing so heavily affects cell function and often leads to wrong conclusions and moreover, the procedure is very time consuming, expensive and simply not always possible.
This lack of acuity leaves just two classes of microscopes suitable for imaging such small objects: charged particle and scanning probe. With charged particle microscopes the specimen must be chemically “mummified”, resulting in theories that are commonly disproven once live samples are investigated. A scanning probe microscope reveals only the surface of an object, making it impossible to see the interactions inside the nucleus of the cell. Other methods of research not related to microscopy allow researchers to investigate the properties of small molecules (about 4 nm) in very special “in vitro” laboratory conditions quite different from live “in vivo” cell research. The secrets of the space between 4 nm “in vitro” and 200 nm “in vivo” - where all biochemical processes and the actual life of the cell take place - cannot be revealed with existing technology.
||Stereonic, LLC is the developer of the Fluorescent Nanoscope, an optical microscope that offers resolution of 2 nm with live organisms and an unobstructed image that is topographically constructed. The Nanoscope will materially improve the precision and density of life sciences research data.
Microscopy tries to give researchers the ability (1) to see live cells in their natural environment, (2) to see objects at a high resolution, and (3) to see objects in depth. Current optical microscopes permit in-depth imaging of live cells, but without high resolution. Charged particle microscopes are powerful but cannot examine live cells, and scanning probe microscopes can examine live cells with high resolution but not in depth.
Developing a microscope with all three of these abilities is difficult because the features do not combine easily. Basically, a microscope has three components: a camera, a light source and an object lens. Light shines and an image is seen, but the image is blurry because all of the molecules are visible as spots with a diameter of approximately one wavelength of light, about 500 nm, hundreds of times larger than the molecules in the object being observed. So the molecules are distinguishable only if they are far enough apart from each other, and if the molecules are too close one cannot tell if there is only one molecule or dozens of them.
The Nanoscope overcomes this issue by adding a new component - an ultraviolet flash - and using a special dye that is unable to emit light before being activated by an ultraviolet flash. These illuminated molecules are registered as separate spots by the camera. Mathematical computations performed by the Nanoscope find the centers of these spots, each spot corresponding to one molecule. These molecules, having been activated and illuminated once, soon bleach and thereafter will not absorb or emit light again. This process of activation, excitation, frame capture and mathematical processing is consecutively repeated many times until all of the frames can be assembled into one big picture.
Only the Nanoscope offers researchers a microscope with all three fundamental features - the holy grail of microscopy. The Nanoscope will allow users to improve resolution by 10-100 times and obtain in-depth, 3D color imaging of any living object. Among other microscopy solutions, our principal competitors also give users improved resolution but with a catch: only genetically modified objects can be visualized. This means high operating expenses and, more importantly, means that the object under study is never as it is in its “live” status.