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BioPhotonics
BioPhotonics is the global resource for research, business and product news and information for the biophotonics community and the industry's only stand-alone print and digital magazine. Stay current with a FREE subscription, and expand your knowledge of light and the life sciences through our extensive, industry-specific archives.

EDITORIAL COMMENT
Latest Issue
Jul/Aug 2021

Proteins make the invisible visible

DOUGLAS FARMER, SENIOR EDITOR [email protected]
Changes in the proteins inside a cell may indicate the presence of a particular disease or condition, and these changes have been historically difficult to track. For many years, it was believed that light in the visible range (>320 nm) was not absorbed by proteins, but recent research has shown that this is not the case. Invasive techniques of investigation, such as the injection of fluorophores, can seriously damage the area being studied. However, recent experiments show that electrically charged amino acids exhibit increased absorption potential — and proteins can thus be studied in their natural state.

Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati recently showed that, when charged positively or negatively, headgroups (the bulky parts of molecules) of amino acids can dramatically improve the absorption of these proteins in the UV-VIS range. This phenomenon is called protein charge transfer spectra (ProCharTS), which has also been shown to produce luminescence.

Authors Amrendra Kumar and Rajaram Swaminathan write in our cover story in this edition that using the ProCharTS process makes anomalies visible in proteins that would not be visible via other techniques. The process also allows a view of the conglomeration of proteins that can forewarn of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and other neurodegenerative diseases. Read more about what the researchers’ experiments have uncovered here.

Elsewhere in this edition of BioPhotonics, Duncan Stacey and Xiaoguang Wang unveil their work in using liquid crystal sensors for rapidly diagnosing COVID-19. At the outset of the pandemic, reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests were distributed, but they can take up to 48 hours to perform. By using liquid crystal sensors and a stage controller, the researchers were able to swiftly detect the ssRNA of the virus. The presence of these molecules affects the visible light that can then be detected by the sensor. Learn what this means for the future of virus detection here.

Another technology with growing use in medicine is quantum cascade lasers, which are pumped by mid-infrared light sources. Authors Panagiotis Georgiadis, Olivier Landry, Alex Kenich, and Miltiadis Vasileiadis write that as QCLs have increased in power while remaining small in size, their portability has made them a reference point for spectroscopy of liquid samples, biomarker monitoring, pathogen detection, and drug development. Find out about the possibilities presented by QCLs here.

Elsewhere, Pierre Fereyre and Antoine Adam relate how OCT has matured, making the technique useful not only in ophthalmology but also in cardiology and dermatology. In OCT, low-coherence light is used to obtain images in two or three dimensions. Many optical components of these systems are available off the shelf. Get more information here.

Finally, it is vital to have a system of standard measurement to determine the viability of results, regardless of the technology used, argues Lili Wang in “Biopinion,” specifically pointing to flow cytometry. While this technique has long been used to observe groups of cells and other particles, the uniformity of measurement has been hindered. Wang notes that a consortium of scientific interests is working to correct this problem. Read about the scope of these efforts here.

Enjoy the issue!
Mike Wheeler
As editor-in-chief, Michael Wheeler oversees Photonics Media's editorial operations — spanning print, web, and podcasts. He also serves as editor of Vision Spectra, chronicling advancements in the rapidly expanding machine vision/inspection sector.
Dan McCarthy
Senior editor Dan McCarthy manages editorial content and production for Photonics Spectra. An award-winning writer and editor, he has communicated the progress and practical value of advanced technologies for over two decades.
Doug Farmer
Senior Editor Douglas Farmer has been a journalist for nearly 20 years, winning awards for health and education reporting. He has a master's degree in journalism from Ball State University. He is editor of EuroPhotonics and BioPhotonics magazines.
 
Sarah Weiler
As Webinar & Social Media Coordinator, Sarah Weiler organizes and produces all Photonics Media webinars and manages social media content. With a background in writing and editing, she also contributes to the print publications.
Valerie Coffey
Science writer Valerie C. Coffey holds a bachelor’s degree in physics and a master’s in astronomy. She has covered optics, photonics, physics, and astronomy for a variety of industry and academic publications since 2000.
Hank Hogan
Contributing Editor Hank Hogan holds a Bachelor of Science degree in physics from the University of Texas at Austin. He worked in the semiconductor industry and now writes about science and technology.
 
Marie Freebody
Contributing Editor Marie Freebody is a freelance science and technology journalist with a master’s degree in physics and a concentration in nuclear astrophysics from the University of Surrey in England.
Farooq Ahmed
Farooq Ahmed has covered the physical and biological sciences for over a decade. He has a bachelor's degree in biochemistry from Brown University and a Master of Fine Arts degree in writing from Columbia University.
 
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