FantasiaBio, based in the Jinhua region of China’s Zhejiang province, understands the power of imaging live cells, and has created a range of fluorescence-based tools to exploit the power of multiplexed live cell imaging for clinical research and development. In 2020, the company developed an innovative in vitro assay to quantify neutralizing antibodies against SARS- CoV-2, allowing researchers to evaluate an individual’s level of protection after administration of a COVID-19 vaccine. Qin Xiao-Feng, Co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer at FantasiaBio, explained: “The kit uses a vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) as a pseudotype vector with a green fluorescent protein (GFP) payload. If the COVID-19 vaccine stimulates effective production of neutralizing antibodies, the VSV pseudovirus is unable to infect human target cells, so the GFP gene is not expressed in these cells. The expression of GFP can normally be seen using a fluorescence microscope, and the number of green ‘dots’ is inversely proportional to the antibody activity. However, imaging in this way requires researchers to be sitting in front of a microscope for long periods of time to manually assess samples, which is time consuming, laborious and leads to inter-operator variability in results. We therefore needed a way to streamline and accelerate whole-well imaging for multiwell plates.”
Many of the anti-cancer drugs currently used for chemotherapy work by causing replication-associated DNA damage that kills individual cancer cells. While this can be an effective way of treating the disease, the drugs often also indiscriminately affect healthy cells, causing unpleasant side effects for the patient. To help resolve this problem, researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden are developing DNA repair inhibitors that are able to selectively introduce toxic DNA damage to cancer cells, while avoiding causing harm to normal cells, to support the successful treatment of cancers and improving patients’ experience of chemotherapy.
The biomanufacturing industry is constantly on the lookout for new technologies to improve the speed, accuracy and performance of its processes, particularly in the biologics arena. Biotechnology company ValitaCell has embraced this challenge, developing novel assays and label-free bright field imaging approaches employing artificial intelligence to complement fluorescence-based cell monitoring techniques.
Work to characterize and further understand the molecular pathology of SARSCoV- 2 became a focus for many virology departments following the identification of the novel virus responsible for COVID-19. Drs Marek Widera, Alexander Wilhelm and colleagues at University Hospital Frankfurt, Germany, turned their attention to developing an in vitro cell culture model that could realistically mimic the viral replication cycle, to decipher the mechanism of COVID-19 infection.
Mitosis plays an essential role in growth and cellular replacement, and is often dysregulated in cancers, making the process of therapeutic interest. Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC Chapel Hill) are developing novel cell imaging tools to help them classify key components of mitosis and identify new therapeutic targets.