Light based imaging is extremely useful in biomedical research since ‘fluorescent markers’ can be attached to biomolecules with molecular specificity. One important technique to study cell signalling is the use of phospho-specific antibodies to monitor the phosphorylation states of specific proteins.

In this project we will combine the new technique of super-resolution imaging of biological cells in the laboratories of Profs. Christian Soeller and Michael Schrader at the University of Exeter with the biotechnical expertise of the UK Biotech company Badrilla.

Super-resolution imaging improves the resolution by a factor of ~10 and achieves near-molecular resolution while preserving the key advantages of optical methods. Our project goal is the development of new ways to measure both protein concentration and phosphorylation state quantitatively within cells. We will develop and apply these techniques to study proteins and their signalling state in the force producing cells of the heart, the cardiac myocytes, where phosphorylation state is typically chronically increased in pathology, such as in heart failure.

The new quantitative techniques are critical to improve our understanding of how the heart works and, more generally, for the whole area of quantitative biology and biophysics. This is a rapidly growing research area where biology and physics closely collaborate to raise our understanding of biological principles to a more quantitative level. Badrilla, the industry partner in this project, is a research active UK life science reagents company who specialize in provision of high quality markers for cardiovascular research.