Sidebar: Product Highlights from ASCB Meeting
In addition to the scientific presentations, the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) conference saw the launch of several new and innovative products. Here are some of the highlights:
Applied Biosystems, part of Life Technologies, introduced the Attune™ acoustic focusing cytometer amid much fanfare. The Attune works with 10 micron fluorescent-labeled beads in a capillary tube in real time, with the ability to slow, stop, and reverse the flow without loss of focus.
Consequently, the Attune offers greater sensitivity, lower fluid consumption, the potential for in-line washes, and a compact size, according to Nicholas Barthelemy, president of cell systems at Life Technologies.
Specifications weren’t released at the introduction, because, according to Barthelemy, “the data is improving as we finalize development.” However, he pointed out that it was about five times faster than other high-end cytometers, capturing 1,213 events per second. It weighs about 60 pounds, doesn’t need a fluidics cart, and has a low fluidics consumption rate of about one liter per day for full-time use, versus about seven liters for other cytometers.
Mayachitra introduced version 1.0 of its imago solution for bio-image management and analysis by showing a highly detailed image automatically stitched together from 444 retinal images. The actual mosaic, which would be 20 inches x 20 inches, provides an overall view that puts multiple small images in context. According to the company, imago handles 5-D images and integrates an interactive segmentation tool that automatically computes properties of individual cells, provides automatic cell counting with result modification capabilities, and offers rich graphical annotation.
Pseudo-colors can be assigned to aid searches, which can be organized by image name, embedded metadata, annotation, user tags, publication, image analysis, image content, or any combination of those parameters. Importantly, it also can perform searches based upon pattern matching or similar shapes using visual information.
Millipore introduced the Scepter™, a handheld, automated cell counter at the ASCB conference. About the size of an automated pipette, it features a sensor zone embedded in the dispensing pad and can report cell count and average cell volume within 20 seconds of inserting the tip into a cell culture sample, according to the company. It also can display a histogram of cell distribution by volume or diameter for an instant snapshot of the health of the culture. It can store up to 72 histograms. The Scepter also features an on-screen menu.
Eric Schulze, a scientist at the Qilong Ying Lab at the University of Southern California, is developing embryonic stem cells and mouse embryonic fibroblasts. He reports that Scepter works well for cells between 5 and 36 microns and is intuitive to use. It will become commercially available during the latter half of the first quarter, 2010.
Nikon introduced the n-SIM and n-Storm super-resolution microscopes, which will be available in early summer. The n-SIM (structured illumination microscopy) provides resolutions of approximately 85 to 100 nm—nearly twice that of conventional microscopes—and offers a time resolution of 0.6 seconds per frame, suitable for live-cell imaging.
The n-Storm (stochastic optical resonance microscopy) reportedly enhances resolution ten times beyond that of conventional microscopes, providing 20–30 nm XY resolution and about 50–60 nm Z resolution. This microscope can switch between high resolution 2-D and 3-D fluorescent images with a flick of a switch.
Platypus introduced the Oris™ Pro Assay system to provide alternatives in cell-migration studies. The Oris Pro replaces the stopper the original Oris used to form the cell-migration zone with a biocompatible gel that dissolves in contact with the cells. The change did not affect cell viability, migration, or cytotoxicity. The primary differences are that the second-generation version uses the biocompatible gel, which reduces handling time and can be automated for liquid handling, the company reported.
Olympus introduced the Cell^TIRF motorized, multicolor illuminating microscope with four channels for simultaneous image acquisition and instant setting and angle confirmation. Wavelengths are optimized to have the same depth. The unit integrates easily with an incubator system.
PhotoMetrics announced a new feature set for the Evolve 512 EMCCD camera, of which Quant-View™ is the most notable. This new quantitation technique counts photos, which are then converted into an analog-to-digital unit in real time. Gain factor calculations and conversions also occur in real time. This information can be used to calculate the number of electrons generated at any pixel per unit measure of time. This provides a standard unit of measurement that can be used to compare or contrast experiments over time or across labs. Each camera includes a certification of performance and the ability to be recalibrated in about five minutes.