Technological Obstacles: Can They Be Overcome?
Stem cell research has traditionally been held up by a variety of obstacles, both large and small alike. Some of these challenges have naturally been addressed as technology has evolved. However, one challenge that has remained consistent is the difficulty of accurately imaging stem cells (largely given their extremely small size). The small size of the stem cells though is not the only factor that makes imaging them difficult. The problem is also intensified by the fact that stem cells are extremely fragile. And, thus, they may not be able to survive under a traditional microscope. Traditional microscopes may be phototoxic to smaller objects, such as stem cells, due to the energy that these traditional fluorescent microscopes give off.
Where does this leave scientists who desperately need accurate images so that they can push their research forward? In general, this has left scientists with a less than satisfying either-or trade-off. Scientists can obtain a high quality image, but this often results in a significant degree of phototoxicity. Cells quickly die after being placed under a microscope, and thus, researchers fail to see the outcomes for processes that must evolve over time. They get at best a fleeting snapshot of what is happening in the culture. Alternatively, researchers can select a lower quality image that has a dramatically longer lifespan.
Unfortunately, stem cell researchers want both, a high quality image with a long lifespan. And, this simply is not possible with traditional fluorescent microscopes.
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Breaking the Either-Or Conundrum
Nanonlive’s breakthrough is commonly referred to as the 3D Cell Explorer or more colloquially, simply as the 3D microscope. This new microscope dramatically changes the playing field and the conversation about what is, or is not, feasible scientifically and medically. This 3D-microscope offers significant advantages when compared with traditional (fluorescent) microscopes. First, the image that is generated by this new technology is extremely crisp and high quality. Researchers can see in detail information about the images that they are exploring. Second, this new microscope does not have the same phototoxicity that is found in traditional (fluorescent) equipment.
Therefore, cells, even fragile stem cells, are more likely to survive the scientific investigation process. And, these extended lifespans mean that researchers will be able to see cellular processes across time (hopefully yielding important information about disease progression and potential treatment options). And, third, this microscope is 3D, compared with the traditional 2D images that most researchers will see under microscope. The 3D aspect also offers numerous pluses.
Nanolive and Its Technology
As noted above, the Nanolive technology has numerous advantages over traditional microscopes, including: image sharpness, culture lifespan, and a bonus 3D perspective.
The closer test tubes or microscopic slides can mirror the real world, the more effective any solutions that emerge from these experiments will be.
The Impact of the Nanolive Technology
The Nanolive label-free 3D live cell imaging microscope is a technology that is transformational. It will change how people conduct research, providing them with additional information that was simply not feasible with earlier generation technology. This may result in dramatic changes in how scientists approach the treatment of long-term and chronic illnesses. However, at the moment, this is still largely hypothetical. The technology is so new, and has reached so few people, that no definitive research indicates which illnesses may or may not experience treatment breakthroughs because of this new technology which allows images to be studied at sharper resolution and intensity for a longer period of time.
However, despite some lingering questions that may take years to answer, the vast majority of experts agree that the technology is likely to be transformative and revolutionary. The only question remains to what degree the transformation will be, and how these transformations will positively impact vulnerable patients. In other words, will these improved images generate treatment methodologies that actually work for the people in need.
In recent years, stem cell technology has evolved at a staggering rate with new breakthroughs (both positive and negative) widely broadcast.. And, these technological advances have opened up a variety of treatment options for diseases that were previously seen as untreatable or incurable. However, technological limitations still get in the way and some of these technological challenges have been quite persistent.
One of the most troubling challenges has been with how to effectively image stem cells, which are both extremely small and very fragile. Traditional fluorescent microscopes tend to kill off these cells via a process known as phototoxicity. Phototoxicity is not the only challenge that researchers face. With traditional microscopes there is also a trade-off between image sharpness and a culture’s lifespan.
The new 3D live cell imaging microscope that was developed and brought to market by the Swiss company Nanolive upends these traditional limitations. The Nanolive microscope does not cause phototoxicity in the culture and it also offers unparalleled image resolution. This means that researchers can see stem cells in all of their details, and they can also watch the stem cells evolve over an extended period of time (thereby more accurately stimulating what actually happens in the disease process).
Experts hope that this will be the next meaningful breakthrough that fundamentally re-shapes what is or is not possible in treating diseases, many of which have debilitating costs for individuals and dramatic public health costs.