Go beyond traditional microscopy: use the latest label free techniques for live cell imaging


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Live Cell Imaging in the microscopy world is constantly evolving as researchers search for techniques to elucidate further mysteries of the human body. Although conventional techniques can open up important new insights into cell structure and behaviour, it is crucial when performing such experiments that cell viability is at the forefront of any measurement. Important challenges must be overcome in order to ensure that the physiological and biological processes that are under investigation are not altered in any way. The lack of contrast and presence of imaging artefacts in some methods make it difficult to distinguish different cell types, while the high level of illumination needed to excite fluorophores alter normal cell functions. This limits the scope, duration and integrity of an experiment as cells suffer from phototoxic shock. As such, it is essential to minimise light exposure, to maintain cells in a healthy state during imaging. Here, we aim to give a brief overview of the newest approaches to live cell imaging that provide solutions to these and other challenges.

Ptychographic Quantitative phase imaging (QPI) for greater clarity, contrast and precision

The LiveCyte™ imaging & cell analysis system from Phasefocus employs a different modality in imaging called Ptychography. High contrast cell images are generated under low levels of light intensity, allowing individual cells to be identified and tracked for prolonged periods without the need for perturbing labels. This ability to image under a more natural environment supports the use of sensitive cell types and enables viable cells to be recovered for subsequent experimentation or downstream analysis. The ability to segment and follow individual cells is paramount for accurate quantification of cell behaviour and differentiates LiveCyte from other commercially available live cell imaging systems. Furthermore, the technology employed in LiveCyte delivers a continuous field of view with no loss of resolution permitting even highly motile cells to be tracked during time-lapse imaging, ensuring no cells are “lost”. Each experiment automatically yields a plethora of metrics, providing information on phenotypic parameters such as cell thickness, volume, dry mass in addition to kinetic behaviour characterised by factors including cell speed, displacement and meandering index. Livecyte represents a rapid and cost-effective means of gaining deeper insights into biological processes.

Laser-free benchtop confocal microscope with low maintenance and low cost of ownership

Aurox Ltd, Oxford, UK, have added a new system to their already successful “Bolt On” Clarity range of confocal microscopes with the recent launch of the Unity laser-free confocal microscope. This compact benchtop system removes the immediate need for travel to a core microscopy facility. Utilising a patented spinning disk design with a novel optical arrangement the Unity is able to generate high resolution confocal images comparable to those of significantly larger and more expensive systems — all without using a laser meaning low photo-toxicity and low photo-bleaching.

Affordable Real – Time Cell History Recorder

NanoEnTek, Seoul, Korea, have developed the JuLI Stage, an individualised Real – Time Cell History Recorder. It is a fully automated, multi-channel, multi-well and multi-position cell analysis system that can be used inside an incubator. Time lapse images record the whole history of a cell from beginning to end. The image stitching functionality is ideal for analysing tissue sections or stem cell colonies in the entire well from individual high resolution images. JuLI Stage software is easy to use and can be remotely controlled allowing any user to monitor cell cultures and analyse experimental data from outside the laboratory.

Choosing the right microscope for your experiment

With a flood of light microscope techniques now available for studying dynamic processes in living cells, it can be overwhelming to decide which techniques or equipment to try. ATA Scientific provides a range of unique technologies designed to accommodate the needs of even the most challenging of applications and budgets. Contact us for a demonstration or for a quick guide on choosing the right microscope for your needs.

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