Could you tell us more about the history of this technique? When was fluorescent microscopy invented? The first documented observation of fluorescence involved a tree used by the Aztecs for medicinal purposes. When soaked, the bark made water glow bright blue. The tree is called “coatli” by Aztecs and is also known as “Mexican kidneywood.”
Is fluorescent microscopy hard? How long would it take a scientist to make this kind of ? The technique has gotten easier to use over time, but it still takes a while to optimize. Scientists have to be careful about the natural fluorescence of cells, called background fluorescence, which can affect results. The dyes can also interact with each other.
In 1941, the fluorescent dye was attached to a targeted antibody. Instead of just measuring natural fluorescence levels of a sample, the dye could be directed to specific parts of a cell or organism. However, the dyes were still difficult to create and manipulate, limiting the technique’s use. It was a bit like assembling furniture—it can be done, but it’s not easy.
The technique that created this —fluorescent microscopy—is so essential to biomedical research we asked Petrus R. de Jong, M.D., Ph.D., research assistant professor at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute (SBP), to tell us a bit more about it. [Note: The above shows a cancer cell, visualized as green, surrounded by structure-supporting stroma cells, visualized as red. DNA is shown in blue.]
That changed twenty years later when a team of San Diego scientists discovered green fluorescent protein in jellyfish in 1962. This protein packages itself—like self-assembling furniture—which really enabled the technique to take off. Today, the technique is essential to biomedical research; nearly every scientist uses it to inform his or her research.
Why is microscopy slide shining with a blue light?