Posted in | Microscopy | Nanoanalysis

New High-Throughput Flow-Through Optical Microscope Enables Easier Detection of Rare Cells

A research team headed by Bahram Jalali and Dino Di Carlo from UCLA has devised a new optical microscope that allows easier detection of rare cells such as circulating cancer cells.

Optical microscope with world's fastest camera

The high-throughput flow-through optical microscope demonstrates a sensitivity of one part per million in real time. This advanced microscope is equipped with the photonic time-stretch camera technology developed by Jalali's group in 2009 to create the quickest continuous-running camera in the world.

The research team has described its integration process of this camera with real-time image processing and cutting-edge microfluidics for the classification of cells in blood samples in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal. The new blood-screening technology demonstrates a throughput of 100,000 cells per second, roughly a roughly 100-fold increase in rate when compared to that of traditional imaging-based blood analyzers.

Thestudy illustrates the detection of rare breast cancer cells in blood in real time with an unprecedented low false-positive rate of one cell in a million. Initial results show that this novel technology is capable of rapidly detecting rare circulating tumor cells from large volumes of blood samples, thus enabling the possibility for statistically accurate early cancer detection and for scrutinizing the efficacy of drugs and radiation therapies.

Lead author, Keisuke Goda informed that this breakthrough technology is capable of considerably reducing costs and errors in medical diagnosis. At present, the team is conducting clinical studies in partnership with clinicians to thoroughly assess the clinical efficacy of the technology. The innovative technology finds use in water quality monitoring, urine analysis, and other related applications.

The U.S. Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs, the Burroughs Wellcome Fund and NantWorks funded the research.


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