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Development of a new high throughput automated imaging system to carry out drug sensitivity measurements on primary leukemia/lymphoma cells to assist individualized assay guided therapy

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New imaging system, for personalised leukaemia therapy

Individualised therapy for leukaemia patients has been given a boost from research by the AISAT project. The scientists have built a high-throughput automated imaging system to gather data on drug sensitivity of primary leukaemia cells.

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To determine whether diseased cells are responsive to drugs being applied, high-throughput microscopic imaging devices are used. Currently, the devices available are often bulky, slow and moreover expensive. As such, they are not suitable for routine clinical diagnosis or even academic research. Work by an EU-funded Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) project, AISAT, promises to solve these problems with the total redesign of the optical visualisation pathway of the microscope. Among the many improvements to the equipment is replacement of bulky cameras with sensitive, high resolution complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) chips. Also featuring in the list of technical upgrades are new electronic circuit boards for primary image capture, illumination control, and high-precision motor movement control and data integration.. Software written specially permits a single-push button operation with automatic auto-focusing, multicolour image collection and adaptive image correction. The final prototype device, Hexascope 3.0 has been fully tested and subject to redesign cycles after improvements were applied. The resulting prototype is bench-top sized and can image the entire area of a 384 well cell culture microplate in three colours. Furthermore, the resolution allows the evaluation of seeded cancer cells as well as details of cell morphology changes for high content analysis imaging. For the effects of drugs on cells taken from patient's blood, the Hexascope 3.0 can provide information on 30 drugs at 4 different concentrations in triplicate for each plate. The device is currently under test using blood samples from clinics from patients with leukaemia in Hungary and Sweden. Results from the samples are being supplied to oncologists to assist in individualised assay-based therapy for the patients. AISAT intends to provide this new technology to other clinics and laboratories for assay purposes and, importantly for research institutes, drug discovery.

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