12 Jan 2016 |
World innovation news |
Live Cells in 3D: Now a Reality with 3D Cell Explorer Microscope
3D Cell Explorer microscope launched by a startup
Swiss company Nanolive, a startup from the EPFL (École Polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne) just launched this December 14th 2015 during a conference in San Diego, USA, a new type of microscope that allows scientists to observe live cells in 3D with a non-invasive approach. This new device has been called 3D Cell Explorer and surely will add new insights in the fields of biological research and understanding of the cellular operation.
With this microscope, a user will be able to skip lengthy preparation steps such as dying of the cells before analyzing them for its correct observation and differentiation. The system also comes with a software specifically designed for cellular understanding which will allows to analyze precise parts of a cell, cellular behavior and response to external stimuli, all in real time and with a resolution down to 200 nanometers.
At the moment, 200 nanometers are 3x times the resolution available in equipment and techniques with similar functionality, among them, Cell-CT launched in 2009 and a method presented in the software called NEXT released by scientists of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Maryland, USA.
3D Cell Explorer microscope resolution
3D Cell Explorer takes it to a next level by operating the same way as a magnetic resonance device. This microscope captures “slices” of the target by moving along one axis and then, the original structure is reconstructed based on the data collected, specifically from the index of refraction characteristic for each part of the cell. Inside a cell, every specialized organelle will refract differently electromagnetic waves traveling through them and by measuring this feature the software can know the exact location of each one inside the cell.
The team in charge on developing the 3D Cell Explorer hopes this microscope contributes by accelerating laboratory tests for early diagnostics, for example, smear test for detection of uterine cancer. With this microscope, the long cell preparation times will be skipped and early diagnostics could be done directly inside the doctor’s office right after taking the sample from the patient.
This microscope could also help in the process of in-vitro fertilization. Nowadays, the only way to observe the fecundation process of the spermatozoid in the egg using a microscope is by tainting them. Unfortunately, this process is dangerous and the chances of the cells being killed by it is about 70%. With the 3D cell explorer, these cells can be studied in detail before, during and after the union without staining or physically damaging them.
“The human body contains 210 types of cells that differ in the structure of the cell envelope and their morphology,” said Lisa Pollaro, who is in charge of communications at Nanolive. “Our microscope can distinguish between all these features.”
Nanolive made available a preliminary cell library that shows the capabilities of this microscope in their website.
Luis Felipe Gerlein Reyes
Luis Felipe Gerlein R. is a Ph.D. candidate at ÉTS. His research interests include nanofabrication and characterization of optoelectronic devices based on lead chalcogenides, carbon-based nanostructures and perovskite materials.
Program : Electrical Engineering