New experimental microscope could help identify kidney diseases faster

Conditions such as nephrotic syndrome could be diagnosed by doctors in a flash

Scientists at the University of St Andrews in Fife have adapted a tiny, super-resolution camera to help them identify diseases in the kidneys, and its increased resolution and clarity could make future diagnoses both faster and more cost effective.

The breakthrough, which is a collaboration between the Scottish institution and the Department of Pathology at Montefiore Medical Center and Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, could help doctors identify conditions such as nephrotic syndrome - a group of potentially lethal diseases that hinder the body's ability to retain certain proteins in the bloodstream.

The microscope itself (a structured illumination microscope or SIM) uses patterned light to circumnavigate the pesky issue of diffraction (where light bends around an object, altering its appearance) and offers double the resolution of the far slower and more expensive electron microscope that's currently in rotation in hospitals.

Traditional light-based microscopes have been in use for the better part of two centuries, but the SIM has the potential to offer a clarity of picture that could change the field microscopy forever. "This is an exciting advance and I'm very pleased by the synergy of our team of physicists, biologists and physicians to apply advances in optics for the diagnosis and treatment of kidney disease," says Professor Kishan Dholakia of the University of St Andrews.

Via: University of St Andrews

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