Optical Projection Tomography Microscope, HPL and VisionGate

Currently diseases are diagnosed using a conventional optical microscope in a pathology or cytology lab after the cells have been fixed and stained. These images from cells on a microscope slide are two-dimensional (2D) from a single perspective view, like an old-fashion chest X-ray. What if these images are three-dimensional like a CT scan used for earlier detection and localization of lung nodules? This advancement is what has been created with the Optical Projection Tomography Microscopy (OPTM) or Cell-CT instrument, (Cell-CT is a trademark of VisionGate Inc. and all movies are Copyright 2008 VisionGate Inc.).

Volumetric (3D) optical imaging of individual cells and nuclei for the earliest detection of cancerous and pre-cancerous conditions, infectious diseases, and effect of drug therapies. In most pathological and cytological analyses, tissue biopsies and cells are imaged in vitro (outside the body) using standard optical microscopes and absorption-based stains. Although cells and nuclei are three-dimensional, this standard imaging technique is only two-dimensional with only one viewing perspective. The development of the Optical Projection Tomography Microscope (OPTM) has allowed 180-degree viewing of individual cells and nuclei at submicron spatial resolution that is isometric. Three-dimensional features are more easily recognized and quantitatively measured using the OPTM, such as the volume, 3D-shape, surface area, surface texture, and 3D features of nuclear invaginations can be used as more sensitive classifiers for earlier conditions of cancer and pre-cancer.

Specific projects using the OPTM or Cell-CT are as follows.

  1. Early cancer detection and diagnosis such as pancreatic cancer cells. See top three 3D movies of the same cultured pancreatic cancer cell.
  2. Nanoparticle localization studies within cells (red nucleus and blue stained nanoparticle clusters).
  3. Multimodal Cell-CT - combining absorption and fluorescence true 3D imaging
  4. Lung cancer screening is the main goal of VisionGate, Inc.
    Medstar movie from spring 2008: 3D Cancer Clues

This collaborative work was initiated and continues with VisionGate Inc., who has licensed joint patents from the UW. We wish to acknowledge critical seed funding from the Washington Technology Center (RTD Program) and subsequently the National Cancer Institute.