With X-ray tech, scientists can peer inside cells

Using an imaging technique similar to a CAT scan, researchers are able to build a kind of whole-cell portrait.

cell portraits, SXT
Whole-cell portraits can be created using an imaging technique called soft X-ray tomography, or SXT. ScienceNow / Screenshot by Anne Dujmovic/CNET

Scientists have developed a way to look inside a whole cell that doesn't involve the usual method of slicing and staining in the lab. Instead, you might say they're employing X-ray vision.

By using soft X-ray tomography (SXT), researchers can take images of a cell every 100 milliseconds and then re-create a whole picture of it from about 90 to 200 images in just a few minutes. The news was presented Friday at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, according to Science Now. (The AAAS publishes Science Now.)

In the image of a T cell above, the scientists have color-coded the lysosomes yellow, the mitochondria pink, and the nucleus blue. Check out the video to see the so-called whole-cell portrait.

About the author

Anne Dujmovic is an associate editor at CNET News. After working more than a dozen years in newspapers, including a seven-year stint at the San Jose Mercury News, Anne migrated north to Portland, Ore. There, she honed her pastry-making skills as an apprentice. Although she's returned to journalism, she still misses the free pastries. E-mail Anne.


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