Researchers at European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg, Germany have developed morphology analysis software that takes over the lab tech’s laborious task of looking for certain visual characteristics of cells under a microscope. The software, called Micropilot, is able to memorize the observable traits of cells a scientist selects for further experimentation and then to monitor the similar-type cells. Though surely thousands around the world are sick of looking through the lenses of a microscope all day and would be excited by this finding, others may be upset that this Zen-like activity will go the way of the horse and buggy.
It analyses low-resolution images taken by a microscope and, once it has identified a cell or structure the scientists are interested in, it automatically instructs the microscope to start the experiment. This can be as simple as recording high-resolution time-lapse videos or as complex as using lasers to interfere with fluorescently tagged proteins and recording the results.
The software is a boon to systems biology studies, as it generates more data, faster. In a mere four nights of unattended microscope operation, Micropilot detected 232 cells in two particular stages of cell division and performed a complex imaging experiment on them, whereas an experienced microscopist would have to work full-time for at least a month just to find those cells among the many thousands in the sample.
Abstract in Nature Methods: Micropilot: automation of fluorescence microscopy-based imaging for systems biology
Story @ EMBL: Intelligent microscopy…