Nobel Prize winning microscope technology revolutionizes skin ageing research

By Andrew MCDOUGALL contact

- Last updated on GMT

Dr Frank Fischer with Sonja Pagel-Wolff
Dr Frank Fischer with Sonja Pagel-Wolff
Nivea producer Beiersdorf is cooperating with Nobel Prize winner in chemistry, Professor Stefan Hell to develop a new microscope technology set to revolutionize skin-ageing research as it can represent cells more precisely.

The ground-breaking invention of STED microscopy, developed by Hell, Director of the Göttingen Max Planck Institute for biophysical chemistry, along with Eric Betzig and William Moerner, allows new findings on skin ageing; and is set to win a Nobel Prize in chemistry on December 10.

“We have been cooperating for three years as part of a state sponsored joint research project with microscope and camera manufacturers as well as the Max Planck Institute. We will continue to work with Stefan Hell on the Nobel Prize winning technology,”​ says Dr Frank Fischer, Head of Beiersdorf Research Lab Microscopy.

‘Cutting edge’

The result of this collaboration is the ‘Cutting Edge GSDIM Technology,’ a method with which the researchers can very precisely observe cellular processes.

“GSDIM stands for ‘Ground State Depletion followed by Individual Molecule Return Microscopy’. This process has the advantage of representing cells with more exactness due to the lasers and fluorescent dyes used. This makes a very sharp view into living skin cells possible,”​ says Dr Fischer.

“Beiersdorf hopes to gain new insight into the complex processes of skin ageing and to research how cellular structure changes through ageing. With GSDIM we can represent extremely small – as small as a couple of nanometer – cellular structural changes in living cells. This way we can learn from skin exactly what happens when it changes.”

Cosmetics research

The research is the basis for the development of skin care products that can stop or reverse the structural changes of the skin.

By using the GDSIM microscope, Fischer and his team looked at how age-dependent structural changes of the skin can be stopped or even reversed with cosmetic treatment.

“We have succeeded in the targeted marking of the structures of the cellular supporting frame and the substructures of connective tissues as well as the power plants of the cells, the mitochondria and to represent them on living cells – this is a great step for skin research,”​ says Dr Fischer.

Research initiative

The joint research project GSDIM is part of the funding initiative ‘Optical Technologies in the Live Sciences – the Fundamentals of Cellular Functions’ of the German Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF).

The goal of this initiative is to support German companies and research institutes in preparing innovative optical technologies for the life sciences. 

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