UKZN's new confocal microscope the only one in SA

2009-04-02 00:00

The Centre of Electron Microscopy at the University of KwaZulu-Natal launched its state-of-the-art Zeiss 710 LSM microscope yesterday.

The R3,7-million microscope is the only one of its kind in South Africa. Dr Edith Elliot, a supervisor at the centre, said tthe microscope means a big step for the university and for scientific research in the country. "It is going it to be much easier and quicker to do research for cancer, HIV/Aids, drug discovery and TB," she said.

Confocal microscopy is the latest technology in the research field being used in Europe and America. The microscope is attached to a computer to provide three-dimensional images of specimens and cells.

"While normal microscopes can only look at the whole cell, the Zeiss 710 uses lasers to focus in on the cell and tell where things are inside.

"The different components of the cell are labelled with fluorescent markers," said Elliot.

The microscope is manufactured by German company Carl Zeiss.

It's purchase was funded by the National Research Fund and the Science and Technology Department at UKZN.

Two previous versions of the microscope were sold to the universities of Pretoria and Rhodes.

Elliot said the centre would be setting up workshops and providing training for researchers all over the country to educate them about confocal microscopy.

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