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Researchers develop new microscope that can see previously invisible organisms in unprecedented detail

Researchers have developed a new microscope that can take pictures of living organisms in unprecedented detail.

They can now see processes inside the body that were previously invisible, including the structure of molecules in cells, the BBC reports.

The enhanced view is expected to accelerate the development of drugs for treating dementia-related illnesses, including Alzheimer's, and infectious diseases which are difficult to treat.

"There is an exponential growth in the number of new images and 3D maps being produced and researchers are clamouring to be trained how to do it," the Francis Crick Institute's Dr Peter Rosenthal said.

The technique, known as cryo-electron microscopy, or cryo-EM, was able to be refined thanks to a number of factors, including advancements in image processing, increased computing power and lower costs.

"It is like seeing how all the different parts of an orchestra play to create a piece of music," he said. "We'll be able to learn how processes in cells work in great detail and what goes wrong when something gets out of tune and causes disease."

Lesley Calder, a flu researcher at the Francis Crick Institute, called the technology "a huge step forward in being able to see what is going on within structures".

"Before, you had to cut them into slices or could just see the outside of. Now we can see the whole object," she said.

The cryo-EM technology earned a Nobel Prize for chemistry in 2017.


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