The recent discovery by the Laser Group that amyloid proteins implicated in a range of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, develop a structure specific intrinsic fluorescence featured in a publication submitted to the RSC Journal Analyst that became one of the most read articles of the year 2013.
The work, led by PhD student Fiona Chan, shows that the attainment of cross beta sheet structure, a hallmark of amyloids in their fibrillar state, is accompanied by a fluorecence phenomenon in the visible range. The group has used this to develop assays which can follow the aggregation of 'naked' proteins in vitro, without requirements for extrinsic labels that might interfere with the aggregation process. In a further study the phenomenon was used to make sensitive and specific sensors of aggregations states in vivo, in small animal model systems if disesase. For an overview of these ideas see a recent review article published here.