Life Science Optics

Spatial Biology

Histopathology is the examination of biological tissues in order to observe the appearance of diseased cells in microscopic detail. Observing tissue biomarkers and cell phenotypes within their spatial context is critical to understanding disease pathology. A high-definition spatial representation of cell types, cell boundaries, neighbors or interacting cells, niches, and tissue contexts is necessary to diagnose and treat disease. Traditionally, histopathology diagnosis has relied on microscopic cellular morphology and immunohistochemistry techniques. The last decade has seen a molecular approach to diagnosis and a focus on mapping RNA transcripts, to understand not only the underlying genomics and transcriptomics, but also the relationship between cells and their relative locations within a tissue. Such study of genomics analyses in the spatial context of biological tissues are popularly referenced as spatial biology, or spatial genomics and is the next frontier of disease diagnostics and therapeutics.

Two types of fluorescence-based imaging applications are used to profile cells in tissue. These include RNA imaging and iterative fluorescence imaging of protein epitopes. For RNA imaging, variations on the single molecule in situ hybridization (smFISH) technique has given rise to various multiplexed methods to allow simultaneous imaging of 10 to 1,000 RNA species in individual cells in tissues. Multiplexed error robust FISH (MERFISH) allows imaging and profiling for RNA species at the transcriptome scale, with high detection efficiency, by error-robust barcoding, combinatorial labeling, and sequential imaging. SeqFISH uses color-based barcodes and sequential imaging to achieve the same goals. Serial fluorescence imaging approaches such as CODEX (CO Detection of Expression) also allows rapid multiplexing to detect tens to hundreds of cellular proteins spatially.

For these techniques to be commercially successful in biomedical research and future diagnostics, a robust high-throughput fluorescence imaging system with superior, consistent performance is a prerequisite. IDEX Health & Science Life Science Optics specializes in the design and manufacture of custom source to sensor imaging systems incorporating multiple wavelength flat-top wide-field illumination perfectly matched to wide field of view diffraction limited high NA optics and detectors that maximize spatial resolution and throughput. Combined with our world class Semrock filters, our source to sensor imaging systems are your best choice for optimizing price and performance.

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