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Ion Microscopy in Cellular Imaging

Researchers at Cornell University have adapted SIMS for biomedical microscopic imaging to study the up take of anticancer drugs by tumor cells. The technique, called ion microscopy, promises to open new avenues of cancer research because it offers a high sensitivity for dectecting isotopes in cellular material. The subcellular location of ions inside normal and cancer cells can be studied with ion microscopy by placing a stable, or nonradioactive, isotope into the bloodstream.

The technique is novel because molecules that have been labeled with either stable or radioactive isotopes can be located within the cell. Instead of the more common autoradiography, ion micoscopy uses stable isotopes that shortens imaging time, assuring that the subcellular location of labeled molecules is native to the cell.

The ion microscope was originally invented in 1962 and exploited in the semiconductor and electronics industry by companies such as IBM. The microscope uses a beam of ions to bombard the sample surface, a process that produces secondary ions by etching off the sample's top layer of atoms.

The report titled "Subcellular Imaging by Dynamic SIMS Ion Microscopy" appears in
Analytical Chemistry and was carried out in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Cornell.



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