The inventors of single molecule localisation and stimulated emission depletion (STED) super-resolution microscopy were today honoured with the Nobel prize for chemistry. One of the key applications of super-resolution imaging, pioneered by the Laser Analytics Group and mentioned by the Nobel Assembly, is the study of protein aggregation reactions in the context of neurodegenerative diseases.
Super-resolution fluorescence microscopy (or nanoscopy) is a key enabler for research conducted by the Laser Analytics Group, in this department, and we were thrilled to hear today that the inventors of optical nanoscopy have been honoured with the Nobel Prize.
Professor Clemens Kaminski’s Laser Analytics Group has pioneered the use of single molecule localisation microscopy, for the development of which Dr. Eric Betzig and Professor William Moerner were honoured today, in the study of protein aggregation reactions that cause neurodegeneration. His group were the first to apply the technique to visualise, directly within cells that go wrong in the brains of patients suffering Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease, how proteins called amyloids aggregate and propagate from cell to cell. The technique was presented in the Journal JACS in 2011 and visualises with unprecedented resolution and within neurones the morphology of protein aggregates of proteins causing Alzheimer's disease. In a recent paper published in the Journal JCB, and widely commented on in the news, we have used the technique to demonstrate how the protein tau, the other hallmark protein in Alzheimer's Disease, aggregates and propagates between cells and possesses a prion like infectivity.
Optical superresolution, unlike electron microscopy, is a dynamic technique, and this has allowed the laser group to observe directly how the aggregation process of neurotoxic proteins progresses on the molecular level. In the work described in a recent paper in Nano Letters they show how nanoscopy resolves, molecule by molecule, how protein neurotoxic protein fibrils form and grow, giving molecular level insights into protein aggregation, information that may one day lead to therapeutic targets against debilitating diseases such as Alzheimer's or Parkinson's.
For more information about super-resolution microscopy and how this is being applied to the study of the molecular mechanism of disease please see the recent feature on the Laser Analytics Group website, which explains in more detail the activities in superresolution microscopy developments in the group.
The Laser Analytics Group congratulates Dr. Betzig, Professor Hell and Professor Moerner on their outstanding achievements.