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Researchers Carry Out Live Cell Imaging With Just A Smartphone

24 December 2016, 12:00 pm EST By Livia Rusu Tech Times
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Smartphones can be employed in making movies of living cells, not needing expensive and specialized equipment anymore. New research provides insight on the method smartphones can be used to analyze the dynamics of living cells, which could change the way labs around the entire world observe cellular motion.

The research, published in the journal PLoS ONE, creates a new perspective when it comes to studying cells through the means of a new, cheaper, tool that can be used in analyzing the way cells respond to different types of treatment.

Cheap 3D Imaging Technique To Analyze Cell Behavior

The research is all the more powerful as it could help replace the current, and usually expensive, imaging equipment that is employed in analyzing cell reactions to drugs and toxins.

The study used 3D-printed parts, electronics off-the-shelf, and a smartphone, and combined them into a new, more powerful tool that can create the same results as professional equipment in showing cell behavior. The research proves that the upgraded system of a smartphone can actually be as efficient as microscopes and imaging tools.

The videos created through the means of this inexpensive gadget were high-resolution and simulated almost perfectly the results obtained by the means of professional mechanisms, only a lot cheaper.

According to the research, time-lapse imaging is an essential tool in understanding cellular dynamics in different situations, but it comes at a high price. This means that many researchers who could potentially investigate trials of new treatments are limited because of the lack of funds.

The results of this research could mean a broader implementation of this new, creative method, which would help researchers who do not benefit from unlimited funds to carry out their projects.

"To address these limitations we have designed a modular and affordable time-lapse imaging and incubation system (ATLIS). The ATLIS enables the transformation of simple inverted microscopes into live cell imaging systems using custom-designed 3D-printed parts, a smartphone, and off-the-shelf electronic components," noted the research.

New Imaging Methods Available

What this research proves is that the technique represents a stable environment that can easily support showing the normal cell behavior throughout the live imaging experiments. Should this method become more used, it will increase the overall accessibility of time-lapse microscopy.

Previous studies focusing on the power of 3D imaging have shown a wide range of usability of this technique when it comes to both scientific and medical purposes. For instance, one of these researches has created a high-definition imaging device that can help seeing inside the human brain during surgery. Surgeons can map the pathways more safely than before, thus avoiding obstacles when operating on tumors.

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