Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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UFO Sighting

Ultrawide field of view microscopy enables small populations among huge numbers of cells to be tagged and analysed

10 April 2022

UFO Sighting

Finding out the molecular mechanisms that make some cancer cells particularly aggressive is essential for developing new anti-cancer drugs. But identifying and isolating such aggressors from a population of cells is not easy. That’s why scientists have developed an automated system for detecting and labelling misbehaving cells within a crowd. The system utilises a microscopy technique called ultrawide field-of-view optics (UFO), which allows a huge number of cells to be viewed at once, and image processing software that automatically monitors each cell’s behaviour. If errant activity is detected, such as rapid growth, the software automatically positions the microscope’s lasers toward the individual cells to label them – all cells having been pre-treated with a light-activated dye for this purpose. Labelling allows the cells to be readily isolated for further study. A demonstration of this laser labelling system is shown in the image above where particular cells have been alien-ated. Get it?!

Written by Ruth Williams

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