CORVALLIS, Ore. -- Scientists in the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University have discovered a new technique to let them watch, visualize and precisely measure a key oxidant in animal cells, an important breakthrough that could dramatically speed research on everything from Lou Gehrig's Disease to heart disease, hypertension, diabetes and aging.
The findings are being published online this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a professional journal. They could open the door to major advances on some of the world's most significant degenerative diseases, researchers say.
The OSU scientists, in collaboration with Molecular Probes-Invitrogen of Eugene, Ore., found a chemical process to directly see and visualize "superoxide" in actual cells. This oxidant, which was first discovered 80 years ago, plays a key role in both normal biological processes and when it accumulates to excess the destruction or death of cells and various disease processes.
"In the past, our techniques for measuring or understanding superoxide were like blindly hitting a box with a hammer and waiting for a reaction," said Joseph Beckman, a professor of biochemistry and director of the OSU Environmental Health Sciences Center. "Now we can really see and measure, in real time, what's going on in a cell as we perform various experiments."
In research on amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's Disease, which is one of his lab's areas of emphasis, Beckman said they have used the new technique to learn as much in the past three months about the basic cell processes as they did in the previous 15 years. Hundreds of experiments can now rapidly be done that previously would have taken much longer or been impossible.
"This will enable labs all over the world to significantly speed up their work on the basic causes and processes of many diseases, including ALS, arthritis, diabetes, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, heart disease
Contact: Joseph Beckman
Oregon State University