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Color Change Roundup

June 5, 2009

Color-changing plastics could indicate when they’ve been structurally damaged.


A healthy glow. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

For many years, scientists have been making proteins that glow. They act as flags on a drug molecule or in a living cell, so researchers can watch where they go in the body. But the researchers lose track of them if they’re blocked behind animal tissue. Now a team led by Nobel Prize winning biochemist Robert Tsien has developed a protein that emits infrared light that can pass right through tissue. They put the protein into a virus that attacks the liver and were able to follow it as it traveled through a mouse. The discovery could help them learn more about germs, drugs and cancer cells, by tracking them in the body.

In other color changing research, scientists have developed solid plastics that change color when they’re bent or otherwise stressed. They say the plastics could have a variety of structural uses, and would reveal when they need to be repaired or replaced. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.