December 18, 2015
Green fluorescent proteins (GFPs) revolutionized scientists’ ability to monitor happenings inside cells. But the glowing proteins have a serious limitation that prevents them from helping scientists watch biological phenomena in whole, living animals. The wavelengths of light used to excite GFPs are readily absorbed by animal tissue, making it difficult for researchers to peer past the surface of an organism. To overcome that limitation, some scientists have engineered fluorescent proteins that absorb and emit near-infrared (near-IR) light, which can penetrate through tissue.
On Tuesday at the 7th International Chemical Congress of Pacific Basin Societies, or Pacifichem, in Honolulu, scientists reported a newly engineered near-IR fluorescent protein that could improve whole-organism imaging of biological processes.