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OHSU and FEI Expand Living Lab with New Equipment for Cancer Research

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FEI and Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) have announced an expansion of their Living Lab for Cell Biology agreement that includes the installation of a complete correlative microscopy workflow in the new Collaborative Life Sciences Building (CLSB) on OHSU’s campus. This expansion adds a new instrument, the FEI CorrSight™, to the OHSU-FEI correlative light and electron microscopy suite.

FEI’s CorrSight is an advanced light microscope that integrates multiple sample preparation protocols for correlative experiments and enables researchers to observe live cell dynamics using visible light microscopy and quickly fixes those cells for follow-on light and electron microscopy when a targeted event or structure is identified. The CorrSight system completes OHSU’s correlative microscopy workflow and will be used by researchers to develop correlative light and electron microscopy (CLEM) assays for high-content drug screening applications.

The OHSU/FEI Living Lab is part of the OHSU Center for Spatial Systems Biomedicine (OCSSB) that combines physics, biomedical engineering, chemistry and biology to study how cancer cells and other diseases develop in the body. The multidisciplinary Center for Spatial Systems Biomedicine is part of the OHSU School of Medicine and the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute.

“Establishing the OHSU/FEI Living Lab with FEI in 2011 equipped us with high-performance tools to visualize cell and tissue structures at levels of detail that were not possible before, with a specific mission to explore how cancer cells function differently as they spread from the site of origin to other parts of the body. With the installation of the new CorrSight microscope, we will now have a complete correlative workflow that will allow us to better understand complex diseases, such as HIV and cancer. In the near term, we will contribute to the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute goals of enabling early detection of lesions destined to become lethal cancer, developing low toxicity treatments to prevent or keep early lesions from becoming lethal and developing effective strategies to better manage advanced cancers,” said Joe Gray, Ph.D., director of the OCSSB and associate director for translational research for the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute.

“Among the advantages of the expanded Living Lab instrumentation is the ability to view living samples and preserve those cells in a fixed position for observation with both light and electron microscopy,” Gray said.

Peter Fruhstorfer, vice president and general manager of Life Sciences, FEI, added, “Over the past several years, imaging technologies have made their first steps toward usage in automated high-content screening environments for unsupervised discovery. The rich variety and wide field-of-view of light microscopy, when combined with the exquisite detail offered by electron microscopy, enables researchers to find and analyze molecular-scale structures and events as part of a drug discovery process. An automated combination of these techniques could be a powerful tool for high-content screening of candidate compounds.”

“A working protocol will be defined, enabling a known specific cell sample type to be run through an entire workflow during demonstrations,” Fruhstorfer added. “The workflow will involve multiple steps, leveraging the live cell imaging capability of the complete set of instruments, as well as the scientific expertise of OHSU and FEI researchers and staff.”

The goals of the expanded OHSU/FEI Living Lab collaboration include: improvements in image acquisition speed, automation, data handling, improved image analysis, more challenging electron microscopy (EM) sample preparation protocols, and three-dimensional EM acquisition. Development of high-content screening workflows for biologically-relevant problems also will be explored.

In addition to the CorrSight system, the CLSB facility includes several other microscopes from FEI that complete the correlative microscopy workflow, such as: Titan Krios™ transmission electron microscope (TEM) - the world’s most powerful commercially-available TEM; a Tecnai™ T12 TEM; and a Tecnai with iCorr™ fully-integrated light/electron TEM; and a Helios NanoLab™ DualBeam™ focused ion beam/scanning electron microscope (FIB/SEM) for sample preparation and 3-D studies of cell structures. FEI’s MAPS software enables correlation between the electron microscope images and an image from any other microscope within the facility.

Establishing the OHSU/FEI Living Lab has provided the OHSU and FEI team with a forum to regularly share feedback on the instrumentation as well as the experimentation. FEI and OHSU are also establishing the first correlative workflow demonstration showcase at the CLSB facility, which is jointly owned and operated by OHSU, Oregon State University and Portland State University.

Using this workflow, researchers are able to start from live cell imaging, continue to fixing cells and then go to high resolution electron microscopy, all working from one software platform.