New technology helps researchers delve deeper into our cells

12 Feb 2018

Researchers are using the latest 3D technology to look deeper inside cells to see how they are affected by disease and treatment, thanks to our funding of £300,000.

Cleo Bishop, Senior Lecturer and Director of Graduate Studies (pictured above) applied for a grant to bring the high-throughput, automated confocal imaging system to the Blizard Institute, part of the School of Medicine and Dentistry at Queen Mary University of London.

Essentially a high-tech microscope, the equipment gives very detailed information on how a live cell is behaving, which is automatically digitised on a new computer system.

Traditionally a cumbersome and time-consuming process, researchers would have taken 2D photos manually and the analysis of the results could have been subject to human bias.

Cleo says: “The old system was like Google Earth – you could look down on something from above. Now it’s more like a 3D version of a house – you can look into each floor, from different angles. It allows you to zoom inside cells and see how they are behaving.”

This confocal imaging technology will help to investigate complex human diseases and help researchers to find new cures and treatments. The technology has revolutionised the research landscape and is so new that the Blizard’s machine is only the third outside Oxford and Cambridge Universities. It will allow researchers at the School of Medicine and Dentistry to compete globally. 

The machine is being used by researchers from several different institutes – from Barts Cancer Institute to the Wolfson Institute for Preventative Medicine. Luke Gammon, Screening Core Facility Manager (pictured above), is an expert on the machine and is on hand to support researchers, so they can learn as little or as much of the technology as their work requires.

From analysing a patient’s samples to screening for aggressive breast cancer biomarkers, the machine will help ensure that Barts Health patients are supported with the highest calibre translational research.

“The sky’s the limit with this software. The machine is so flexible, it can be applied to any medical question,” adds Cleo.

Image above right taken on the machine by Heather Baldie of Live MDA-MB 231 cells (triple negative breast cancer cell line), internalising CD95R-Fc coated microparticles.


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