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Fluorescence Microscopy Technique Enables Record- breaking Resolution in the Imaging of Cellular Components


Carl Zeiss and the Inventors Sign License Agreement for Commercialization

Carl Zeiss and physicists Dr. Eric Betzig and Dr. Harald Hess have signed an exclusive license agreement for commercialization of Photo- activated Localization (PAL) microscopy. This new technique opens a new world of fluorescence microscopy, demonstrating for the first time in cells a resolution of approximately 20 nm. This is an order of magnitude higher than conventional fluorescence techniques such as confocal microscopy achieve.

The technique invented by Dr. Betzig and Dr. Hess is so powerful that it allows scientists peering inside cells to discern the precise intracellular location of potentially each individual protein they are studying. Betzig and Hess began developing PAL microscopy as independent researchers and are now at the Janelia Farm Research Campus of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Virginia, USA. “We were very excited by the potential of PAL microscopy from the moment we started to assess the technique. It not only offers the highest resolution available, but also achieves this in a very light-efficient manner. PAL microscopy has also been demonstrated on multi-colored samples, an essential prerequisite for accurate colocalization studies.”

“With the integration of PAL microscopy, the affordable personal super-resolution system, into microscope systems from Carl Zeiss, our customers will get for the first time a complete picture of the ultrastructure underlying the cellular architecture and functioning. This truly reveals new insights into how life is organized at the subcellular level”, says Dr. Bernhard Zimmermann, Senior Product Manager at Carl Zeiss MicroImaging.

Traditional optical microscopes could not resolve the organization of most small cellular compartments. Betzig and Hess overcame this limitation by photo-activating fluorescent molecules sparsely enough to ensure that individual activated molecules are further apart than the classical resolution limit. Thus, the molecules’ positions can then be determined with high precision. Repetitive photo-activation and assembling all determined positions into a single image achieves a resolution comparable to an electron microscope. Moreover, PAL microscopy has the additional benefit of being specific to the fluorescently labeled proteins of interest and does not require cumbersome sample preparation.

“We are very pleased to have a partner of Zeiss’ stature and high technical expertise to spearhead the commercialization of our development”, remarked Eric Betzig. “We share a deep commitment with Carl Zeiss to see this technology reach a broad community of researchers in a form that upholds high technical standards and will truly further their research.”, adds Harald Hess.

Dr. Ulrich Simon, President and CEO of Carl Zeiss MicroImaging GmbH, stated: With this technology, our customers will have available a new dimension in fluorescence microscopy that will enable completely new approaches and experiments in all disciplines of biomedical research. We are confident this technology will continue to allow the users of ZEISS microscopes to pioneer the frontiers of science.

Gudrun Vogel
Phone: +49 3641 64-2770
Fax: +49 3641 64-2941


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