Researchers at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia have been given a new and very powerful way to study a number of long term health conditions, including diabetes.

The Titan Krios is a 3 meter tall electron microscope, worth $5 million, that is capable of 2D and 3D characterization of biological samples. Whilst such powerful microscopes have been available in other countries, including the US and Europe, the travel involved has presented some barriers for Australian research.

With the new microscope installed, researchers in Australia and New Zealand will have much greater access to high resolution biological imaging, which will help push forward research into complicated conditions such as diabetes.

Examining the immune system

The telescope will enable researchers to look in detail at how the immune system behaves, allowing them to see how individual proteins and cells interact. This has particular significance in terms of understanding autoimmune diseases such as type 1 diabetes.

Pioneering research which has being taking place at Monash University includes studies into how the protein GAD65 interacts with the body and particular its role within the development of type 1 diabetes. This is the kind of research for which the electron microscope will be enormous benefit.

Professor James Whisstock, director of advanced molecular imaging at the Australian Research Centre, was overjoyed that Australia now have new machinery, stating: “Learning more about the immune system, and thus our health, is ultimately driven by the interactions of these large biological molecules. And those interactions depend on the 3D shapes and structures of the molecules involved.”