Glow With the Flow
It’s hard to miss the news this week that researchers at the Mayo Clinic have used fluorescent protein techniques to map how infected cats fend off feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), which results in their version of AIDS. After all, along with the published findings came photos of glowing green cats!
The work has ramifications for both FIV and HIV research, advancing understanding of the disease process and perhaps how to treat it. It’s also the latest example of the scientific work that earned UC San Diego research Roger Tsien and two colleagues the 2008 Nobel Prize in chemistry.
Since first describing how to extract green fluorescent proteins (that’s a ribbon diagram of a GFP structure) from the naturally luminescent Aequorea victoria jellyfish and insert them into other living organisms, the Nobel laureates have helped scores of researchers use the technique to shine a novel light upon unseen biological processes and mechanisms, then use that knowledge to develop new understandings of life and new treatments for the human condition.
Glowing cats is just the latest example. The work ranges from simple worms called C. elegans to fruit flies, mice and monkeys. Tsien and others have also broadened the palette of colors, making it possible to brilliantly color different cells and nerves in the human brainstem and create a “brainbow.”
Herewith, a glowing review.
Posted on Wednesday, 14 September 2011
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