Livecyte: Automated cell tracking with greater depth of analysis

ATA Scientific Pty Ltd
Friday, 01 October, 2021

In analysing primary prostate cancer cells to study new cancer treatments researchers from the University of York determined that established options for characterising heterogeneous cultures, such as fluorescent labelling or separating subtypes, led to changes in cellular behaviour.

They sought to use Livecyte, a label-free high content kinetic cytometer, to identify their different subpopulations within the heterogeneous culture using its quantitative phase imaging modality. Livecyte produces high contrast label-free images of cell culture using ptychography. Automated analysis algorithms produce accurate segmentation of each cell, allowing investigators to automatically track individual cells and extract valuable information about their behaviour such as motility, proliferation, and dry mass.

Using Livecyte, they were able to perform long-term timelapse imaging whilst automatically segmenting and tracking cells in their heterogeneous prostate cell cultures. Livecyte imaging showed that primary prostate cultures divide less frequently than cell lines but undertake significantly more movement in 2D culture. Subpopulations of differentiated cells were distinguished and their behaviour was quantified, independently and whilst cocultured, in response to Docetaxel treatment. Livecyte identified bi-modal and tri-modal responses in primary cell morphology to Docetaxel pointing to drug resistance in a small subset of cells. Altogether, Livecyte was able to reveal details otherwise masked with more traditional assays which look at the average of a population.

Livecyte opens the realms of possibilities within cancer research, enabling investigators to identify therapy resistance in individual cells. Furthermore, it takes us considerably closer to the goal of rapid screening of treatments and personalisation of therapies to cancer patients, a prospect which would improve many millions of cancer prognoses.

For more information:

Image caption: Dynamic responses of primary prostate cells to Docetaxel can be extracted from the Livecyte data. Each cell is measured, and patterns of response recorded. Bi-modal sphericity responses are observed with some parameters that can be related to the cell behaviour (turquoise circles). For a larger image, click here.

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