HEIDELBERG, Germany, Oct. 15, 2015 — The European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) has launched a company to develop light-sheet microscopes for the global life sciences market.
Luxendo GmbH will get its start with €6 million (about $6.85 million) in financing from EMBL Ventures of Heidelberg and Life Science Partners of Amsterdam.
Light-sheet microscopy allows scientists to observe living cells in 3D for extended periods of time. Luxendo's microscopes are based on a light-sheet technique called selective plane illumination microscopy (SPIM).
The MuVi-SPIM microscope is already commercially available. Courtesy of Luxendo.
The company's MuVi-SPIM microscope is already commercially available. The device was first described in Nature Methods (doi: 10.1038/nmeth.2064) in 2012 when it was used to image cell division in a fruit fly embryo.
"Light-sheet microscopy has already allowed us to see things we couldn't dream of before, such as imaging the entire embryonic development of the fruit fly with subcellular resolution," said Lars Hufnagel, who develops the technology at EMBL and uses it in his research on tissue development.
The microscope shines a thin sheet of light onto the sample, illuminating one layer at a time to obtain an image of the whole sample with minimal light-induced damage. It takes four full images from different angles, eliminating the need to rotate the sample. The four images can be merged into a single, high-quality 3D image within a few seconds.
Embryonic cells divide to form a fruit fly's ventral furrow. In the inset, other cells can then be seen moving around the embryo's rear end to its back in a process called convergent extension, and later close a gap in the embryo's back in a process called dorsal closure. Courtesy of EMBL.
"In a company setting, the technology can be pushed even further and made available to many more people than we could have catered to as research groups" said Jan Ellenberg, a senior scientist at EMBL who teamed up with Hufnagel to develop light-sheet technology for studying early mammalian development.
Dr. Stefan Herr of EMBL Ventures and Dr. Joachim Rothe of Life Science Partners will join Luxendo's board of directors. Initially the company will be hosted on the EMBL campus, and will focus exclusively on developing and commercializing light-sheet microscopy for biomedical research.
"Being incubated at EMBL is a win-win situation," said Luxendo CEO Christoph Antz. "It means scientists have access to these new technologies as we develop them, and at the same time we can test and improve the microscopes with our intended users right from the onset."
For more information, visit www.embl-ventures.com.