Novel fiber optic probes for visualizing chromosome tips

Newly developed fiber optic probes provide a safe and simple technique that helps to visualize chromosome tips in living cells. To be more precise, the fiber probes have been produced by a team of researchers from Japan. They claim that such a fiber optic technology promotes researches into aging and numerous types of diseases, containing cancers.

It should be noted that ends of the chromosome are subjected to degradation and fusion, this is the reason why they have protection called telomeres “made of long repeating DNA sequences and bound proteins”. Fiber optic probes allow for detecting telomeres malfunction.

The thing is that improper operation of telomeres influences chromosome stability resulting in different diseases, for instance, cancer. Additionally, telomeres are limited leading to call death sooner or later. Thus, the process of telomer visualization by fiber probes in real-time plays a crucial role in understanding their relevance to disease and aging.

Even though there are some visualization techniques, they are not perfect. For instance, some of them are limited by the detection of preserved, or ‘fixed’, cells, some methods require a lot of time or complex procedures. Fiber optic technology, in turn, overcomes previous challenges because it does not have disadvantages. 

The thing is that these challenges have been got over by the development of a fiber optic probe that allows for accurately deliver a fluorescent compound to telomeres on the tips of chromosomes. The novel fiber probes consist of tiny molecules made from pyrrole and imidazole molecules that can be pre-programmed to connect to a selected DNA sequence.

The researchers create a fiber optic probe that aims at the DNA repeating sequence that telomeres include in living cells. They also apply a fluorescent compound (silicon-rhodamine) to increase its efficiency. The programmable probes based on fiber optic technology open new opportunities to employ these molecules in such fields of applications as biology and medicine.

Finally, the fiber optic probes have been already tested and demonstrated accurate observation of telomere dynamics during various phases of cell division and measurement of telomere length by gauging the fluorescence intensity. It is the first time when the researchers succeed in visualizing telomere length via fiber probes.

Such a fiber optic technology promotes the development of an efficient and reliable technique for determining extreme telomere shortening in diseases, for example, age-related retinal degeneration. Moreover, it is possible to target fiber optic probes at any DNA sequence, thus, resulting in the visualization of other important sequences.

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