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Live cell imaging is one of the most important techniques in life sciences today. But behind every great imaging assay, pity the poor scientist grappling with the demands of biological variability and complex kinetic assays. Live cell experiments are often synonymous with unsociable working hours, tedious protocols and unrepeatable results. In this blog, we explore what it takes to tame automated cell imaging assays, and take back control of kinetic experiments to get reliable results more quickly, with fewer errors and less aggravation.
Damage to the brain or spinal cord can be life changing for affected individuals, and it was historically thought that these injuries would not heal and could not be repaired. However, since the discovery of neurite growth inhibitors by Professor Martin E. Schwab at the University of Zurich, clinical researchers have been exploring new therapeutic approaches to treat cerebral stroke and spinal cord injury. The Wyss Zurich/University of Zurich CeNeReg project and NovaGo Therapeutics Inc. – co-founded by Professor Schwab – are at the forefront of this exciting field, and are dedicated to the development of human antibody therapeutics to stimulate nerve repair and regeneration.
The VirPath laboratory is focused on the study of influenza and other respiratory viruses to identify new antiviral molecules and develop innovative vaccines. Digital dispensing and luminescence-based assays play an important role in the evaluation of viral growth in different experimental models.
Regenerative medicine aims to stimulate the body’s own repair mechanisms to heal damage to tissues or organs. A wide range of biological materials – from extracellular matrix components and platelet lysates to stem cells – can be used to induce targeted tissue regeneration, but require careful formulation, extraction and purification for clinical use. Researchers at Celixir are exploring the potential of this approach to treat ‘tennis elbow’, a common repetitive strain injury affecting around two percent of the global population.
Brain tumors are the most common cause of mortality in childhood cancer patients, and treatment options are limited, especially for recurrent cases. Researchers at the University Hospital Düsseldorf are using automation to develop a more personalized approach to cancer medicine, performing rapid drug screening to identify novel therapeutic strategies to improve the chances of survival.
Small molecule drug discovery involves a range of functional assays that have traditionally relied on manual cell counting techniques to monitor proliferation, migration and invasion. Automated cell counting is enabling the EB House Austria to save time and free up personnel, as well as designing time-course experiments that were previously unachievable.
The successful treatment of inflammatory diseases may lie with controlling the production of particular proteins, driving efforts to identify translational repressors for drug targeting. Scientists at the Moulder Center for Drug Discovery Research have developed luminescencebased biosensors for protein detection, supporting multiplex studies and timecourse assays for identifying and characterizing novel compounds.
Many common food additives and pharmaceuticals make their way directly into aquatic ecosystems. While their effects on humans are well documented, the impact on the environment and marine lifeforms is largely unknown. This has become the focus of a collaborative project involving researchers at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, which has adopted fluorescence polarization to explore the problem at the molecular level, screening compounds for their affinity to nuclear receptors.
LMSM studies the effects of changing environmental parameters on the physiology of bacteria, and has recently began using this expertise to help the cosmetics industry. Many of these investigations involve absorbance-, luminescence- and fluorescence-based assays, requiring strict control of the temperature inside the microplate measurement chamber for reliable results.
Tessa Therapeutics has developed a virus-specific T cell therapy for the treatment of solid tumors, which has shown promising results in early trials. Stringent quality control, including time-resolved fluorescence cytotoxicity assays performed on a multimode reader, is essential for this work.
Discovering and developing new antimicrobial drugs to tackle antibiotic resistance requires an understanding of how bacteria respond and adapt to new compounds. A range of tests are needed to determine the efficacy of potential drugs, such as aggregation and adhesion/invasion assays. For SMALTIS, a biotechnology company in Besançon, France, test automation has dramatically improved throughput and data collection, freeing up research hours to concentrate on developing new experiments.
Wild Tasmanian devils are vulnerable to a facial cancer discovered in 1996 and identified as a transmissible tumor a decade later. The contagious disease originated in northeastern Tasmania and spread throughout the country, decimating the devil population and raising the real possibility of extinction. Scientists at the Menzies Institute for Medical Research, University of Tasmania, have pioneered research into the problem – drawing upon the latest developments in human immunology and bioluminescence cytotoxicity assays – in the hope of developing a vaccine to save the island’s iconic marsupial.
Multidisciplinary research calls for multifunctional laboratory equipment capable of rapidly switching between applications. Staff in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the TU Eindhoven understand that having the right instruments for your workflow can allow more users to benefit and help to accelerate research.