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3D cryo-imager can identify a single cancer cell

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October 1, 2009

Image of cancer cells in the adrenal gland of a mouse
 (Image: Case Western Reserve Univer...

Image of cancer cells in the adrenal gland of a mouse (Image: Case Western Reserve University)

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Recent developments in the fight against cancer have promised better ways to both identify and treat the disease. Adding to the ever growing list of advancements is Dave Wilson, a Professor of biomedical engineering at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. Frustrated by blurry low resolution optical images of diseased tissues, he has developed a cryo-imaging system which can identify and pinpoint the exact location and number of cancer cells in a particular area while displaying the findings as a detailed three dimensional color cyber model.

Prof. Wilson says that not only is the cryo-imaging system able to identify single molecules and count the number of cells in an organ, it can also pinpoint the exact location of cancer cells. The system can compare normal and abnormal organs and catalogue the effectiveness of different drug, gene and cellular therapies in preclinical testing, as well as focus on different areas of a specimen, for example the vascular or central nervous system.

The cryo-imaging system incorporates a microscope, low light camera, three-axis robotic positioning system and automation, visualization and analysis software.

The imager is able to disassemble real tissue layer by layer and then reconstruct the findings compiled as a three dimensional cyber model and the system sends text message updates to researchers as it constructs the images. As the findings are presented as an ultra-high resolution color image, they are far more detailed than the traditional grayscale found in methods such as Magnetic Resonance imaging (MRI).

Prof. Wilson has started a company called BioInVision Inc to commercialize the imaging system, and the development team have described the process and software used to develop cryo-imaging in a Paper published in the Annals of Biomedical Engineering.

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