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Autoprobing Tech for Fast Diagnoses

Photonics.com
Mar 2010
SANKT AUGUSTIN, Germany, March 22, 2010 — The Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Information Technology (FIT) has developed a fully automated high-performance microscope with which researchers will be able to study the complex interactions of proteins between cells.

In tumor diagnostics, the microscope allows the classification of slightly different types of tumors more precisely and the fine-tuning of therapies accordingly. Key factors for the superior performance of the institute’s new system are high-precision hardware and image-analysis software that is trainable and can be customized to the user’s specific application.


Fraunhofer FIT’s IMIKRID microfluidic sensor chip, comprising electrochemical sensors, data processing electronics and a microflow cell, is shown. (Photo: Fraunhofer FIT)

The system produces a laser scan of a tissue probe’s surface with a resolution of a few nanometers. In addition, the laser beam can trigger fluorescence effects that give more detailed insights into the morphology and structure of the probe. “The reflected light is used to compose high-resolution images of the probe; our learning, trainable image-analysis software can extract more valuable information from these images than the tools widely used today,” said Harald Mathis, head of Fraunhofer FIT’s department for biomolecular optical systems.

In addition, Fraunhofer FIT has announced IMIKRID, a microfluidic diagnostic system that has been designed to improve early diagnosis of cancer and cardiac diseases. IMIKRID is being developed by a group of Fraunhofer institutes led by Fraunhofer FIT. The system implements a novel detection method that can detect markers even at a single-molecule level of concentration. At its core is a microfluidic chip with four independent single-molecule biosensors.

The chief applications of IMIKRID are cardiological preventive diagnostics to detect and monitor cardiac diseases and in oncological diagnostics at very early, presymptom stages. A third field is lactate monitoring through sweat analysis, both in infarct prevention and in fitness monitoring for athletes.

For more information, visit: www.fit.fraunhofer.de  


GLOSSARY
fluorescence
The emission of light or other electromagnetic radiation of longer wavelengths by a substance as a result of the absorption of some other radiation of shorter wavelengths, provided the emission continues only as long as the stimulus producing it is maintained. In other words, fluorescence is the luminescence that persists for less than about 10-8 s after excitation.
microscope
An instrument consisting essentially of a tube 160 mm long, with an objective lens at the distant end and an eyepiece at the near end. The objective forms a real aerial image of the object in the focal plane of the eyepiece where it is observed by the eye. The overall magnifying power is equal to the linear magnification of the objective multiplied by the magnifying power of the eyepiece. The eyepiece can be replaced by a film to photograph the primary image, or a positive or negative relay...
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