Detecting Enzyme Activity in Live Animals

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Science  03 Mar 2000:
Vol. 287, Issue 5458, pp. 1575
DOI: 10.1126/science.287.5458.1575

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Researchers report in the March issue of Nature Biotechnology that they've used magnetic resonance imaging to watch an enzyme being produced deep within the heads of living Xenopus laevis tadpoles, where conventional enzyme imaging techniques can't reach without slicing through the animal. The resolution--the highest so far in these types of studies--was good enough to discriminate structures as small as individual cells. By allowing researchers to follow the activity of specific genes in living embryos, the technique should generate new insights into embryonic development. And ultimately, experts hope, it will provide more sensitive methods for diagnosing diseases such as cancer and also help physicians measure how well disease therapies are working.