In the world of science and pharmaceuticals, details matter.

It’s not every day that we see new innovations at the subcellular level, so the recent study released by the US University of Cincinnati is certainly exciting!

Cancer biologists at the world-renowned university have developed a new piece of technology and a new imaging technique that will help researchers glean more detailed data points and see cells in more precise detail when studying the development of cancer and neurodegenerative diseases.

Jiajie Diao, PhD, associate professor at the institution focused his study on a tiny part inside cells, called a lysosome, that is involved in cell processes. Working with Yujie Sun, PhD, associate professor in UC’s Department of Chemistry, they discovered that this “organelle,” is a specialized structure that performs various jobs inside cells helping the cell reuse broken or malfunctioning building blocks for different purposes.

In order to function correctly, lysosomes need to be in an acidic environment and generally have a low pH value. However, abnormal pH levels within lysosomes have long been associated with cellular malfunctions that can lead to diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. By recreating an appropriate environment and developing a new probe that attaches to the lysosomes, the team at UC developed the resulting “EC Green” probe which attaches to the lysosomes and literally becomes a brighter shade of green when the cell environment becomes more acidic.

Going a step further, by monitoring this change of color, scientists can start to amazingly identify correlations between changes in acidity and cells becoming cancerous. According to Diao, EC Green is relatively inexpensive and extremely quick, and easy for researchers to use. About 20-30 minutes after staining cells with the probe, the samples can be washed and placed under a microscope for observation.

Already working on the next generation, which would turn red rather than just more green,  Diao and his team demonstrate that the world of intricate science never stops and that innovation is the key to success in the modern science world.

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