Narrator: This is Science Today. Physicists and researchers at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory are using an isotopic, analytical tool called Accelerator Mass Spectrometry to conduct basic biomedical research. Ken Turteltaub, the head of molecular toxicology at the Livermore Lab, explains what Accelerator Mass Spectrometry can do.
Turteltaub: You can see one damaged DNA base - one flaw in your DNA - in a whole cell and there are about three billion or more base pairs in your cell. We can see one mutated letter. Take one word in a book really, change one letter in that book - we can find it with this kind of technology.
Narrator: One way the Lab is using Accelerator Mass Spectrometry is to study why some foods in our diets - such as broccoli or lycopenes in tomato paste - seem to reduce the risk of certain cancers.
Turteltaub: There aren't that many techniques out there sensitive enough to measure the specific chemicals and the specific changes that are occurring in our bodies at the levels that we're exposed to them. And that's a really unique thing that technologies like this are allowing.
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.