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Camera Detects Faulty Cells

Photonics Spectra
Nov 1998
Daniel C. McCarthy

Professor Hal Krider combines microscopy with image analysis in his search for an early- detection test for lyme disease and other research he performs in developmental genetics at the University of Connecticut's Biotechnology Image Analysis facility. And like any research conducted in a university setting, his work must be accessible enough to enable students to participate. Among the instruments Krider uses is a digital microscope camera with enhanced software, designated the DMC-ES, from Polaroid Corp. The camera captures cell material in 24-bit color at 1200 × 1600-megapixel resolution. "The Polaroid is not what I would choose for low-light applications, but for standard applications it works well," he said. "For applications where you want a reasonable amount of illumination, such as interferometry, the Polaroid pictures are gorgeous, calendar quality." 

Polaroid's camera allows professor Hal Krider to take pictures of cellular and subcellular configurations such as this image of a living and unstained Drosophila testis viewed through a Zeiss interference telescope. Krider collects, compares and processes images as statistical entities to research patterns in faulty cell development.

Students at the University of Connecticut's Biotechnology Image Analysis facility require little training to use Polaroid's digital camera in producing high-resolution images for research. This glass shard contaminant was identified by students for a facility client. Courtesy of the University of Connecticut.

Comparing cells

After capturing images of cell material, Krider compares them to advance a signature analysis indicating patterns in healthy and diseased cells. Because the images are digital, he can process them as statistical entities to detect patterns in faulty cell development.

I use histochemical techniques to localize molecules. As a geneticist, I ask how changing genetic systems alter molecular structures within cells. Polaroids camera allows me to take pictures of these gene and chromosomal configurations and compare them to learn how they behave, Krider said. I also do interference microscopy and phase microscopy to look at the material. I can frame grab to effectively determine the location of the dyes, which is very important.

Because Krider's students participate in his research, the camera's ease of use is extremely important. He pointed out that his students can use the camera with very little training and get elegant pictures. Other qualities that attracted him to the DMC-ES camera are its portability and midrange cost for cameras of its kind. It's robust, high quality for the cost, and portable, he said. The whole thing goes into my briefcase with my laptop. It's like having a really good penknife.

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