Researchers at Columbia University have made a significant step toward visualizing small biomolecules inside living biological systems with minimum disturbance. Wei Min and colleagues have developed a general method to image a broad spectrum of small biomolecules, such as small molecular drugs and nucleic acids, amino acids, lipids for determining where they are localized and how they function inside cells. The team have departed from the conventional paradigm of fluorescence imaging of fluorophores instead coupled stimulated Raman scattering (SRS) microscopy with the use of an alkyne tag that gives them a strong, characteristic Raman signal. Our new technique will open up numerous otherwise difficult studies on small biomolecules in live cells and animals, explains Min. In addition to basic research, our technique could also contribute greatly to translational applications. I believe [it] could do for small biomolecules what fluorescence imaging of fluorophores such as green fluorescent protein has done for larger species.
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