by Monya Baker

Real-time imaging reveals the previously unseen.

The blood-forming system is simultaneously the hardest and easiest to study. On the one hand, collecting cells can be as simple as a blood draw; on the other hand, haematopoietic stem cells do their real work — generating new cells — while they are tucked away in the bone marrow. Two studies published this month in Nature show how to get a sustained peek inside this niche, revealing the complex support system that guides haematopoietic stem cells to produce specialized progeny.

The shapes of some of the tiniest cellular structures are coming into sharper focus at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Janelia Farm Research Campus, where scientists have developed a new imaging technology that produces the best three-dimensional resolution ever seen with an optical microscope.

By Xiaowei Zhuang

Recent advances in fluorescence microscopy have enabled scientists to see inside cells with far better clarity than traditional optical imaging techniques, which are limited by the wavelength of light. Now, Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) researchers have added a whole new dimension to that newfound clarity.

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