Electron cryotomography will help create exciting and scientifically accurate 3D medical animations – a view of Yuriy Svidinenko, founder of Nanobot Medical Animation studio

During the process of creating accurate 3D medical animations for our customers from the pharmaceutical | biotech industries and other companies in the healthcare sector, we often face difficulties achieving an accuracy of structures at the cellular and molecular level. Today, one of the most reliable methods to obtain scientific information about cells and their structure is electron cryotomography (CryoET).

This is an imaging technique that allows seeing ultrastructure of cells at a high-resolution (~4 nm) in a three-dimensional view that is created as a result of processing many nano slices.


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Accurate 3D medical animations

electron cryotomography

Cryotomography is based on the method of cryo-freezing of samples at a temperature below -150° C, which immobilizes them without dehydration. This method avoids the involvement of any chemical fixation that can damage the cellular structure.

By using CryoET, scientists discovered amazing and complex structures of bacterial cells. It put forward plausible hypotheses regarding the development of bacteria, their mechanism of movement, the way they interact with each other and with other microbes, including viruses.

Nowadays, it is possible to collect all available information about the structure and activity of viruses and bacterial cells with this approach. But a systematization, processing, and conversion into a 3D model would require a team approach.  Moreover, even a skilled scientific consultant does not have enough highly specialized knowledge on the topic. Therefore it is essential to involve scientists who have dedicated their work to a particular virus throughout their career. Furthermore, a modeler with a lack of biological education will not understand the published scientific data and protein structures in a Protein Data Bank, and also cannot correctly build molecular models.

On the other hand, the scientist with all necessary data cannot visualize the complete model in professional programs for 3D modeling. Regarding our experience, only a close interaction of these specialists can give a neat and informative result. That is what we are trying to provide when creating our models and animations.

CryoET could provide the animator with an almost finished scientifically accurate 3D reconstruction of cellular structures, which means that a digital artist receives a partially done job or “draft”. It will save time that could be spent on the artistic visualization of the structure. It will significantly accelerate the work of the animator and will improve the quality of the results too. The final task is to provide life to the cell with our motion graphics and give that realistic feel to it, which will highlight it as a main character in the movie.

Today, detailed accurate 3D medical animations of some viruses such as HIV, Ebola, papillomavirus, influenza viruses are created using CryoET. Each model is a result of extensive research of scientific literature.

As our animation studio is devoted to science, we are creating scientifically accurate 3D medical animations that are ready to help better understand the action of a particular microorganism in the body, its structure and how to deal with it.

electron cryotomography
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