A closer look

This isn’t the sort of thing that grabs headlines, but I think this is really important news. Researchers at Lawrence Livermore Lab (about 20 miles east of here) and from other countries have developed techniques to look at single molecules of protein folding up. This is a breakthrough in being able to get the details of how proteins fold–and mis-fold–a source of disease including cancer.

And out northeast of here they’ve built the highest resolution PET scanner known. It’s for looking in detail at the physiological processes of small things like mousies and cells, e.g., cancer cells.

PET works by detecting short-lived radioactive tracers that emit positrons, or anti-electrons. Those tracers can be attached to other molecules that are targeted to particular cells. For example, highly active cells, such as cancer cells, can be tagged with radioactive glucose.

It’s improvements in instruments like these that produce all new understanding down the line.