Researchers at Purdue University have developed technology that lets them view and analyze the activity of thousands of cells simultaneously, gathering huge amounts of data that was previously only available for small groups of cells. All in all, the investigators are able to gather up to 30 million datapoints on large groups of cells every second, opening the possibility of complex, large scale studies of how different factors affect living cells and tissues.
Their so-called multi-pupil adaptive optics technique involves moving, bending mirrors that compensate for how tissues affect light as it passes through them. The origins of adaptive optics come from astronomy, which allowed scientists to see the cosmos while eliminating many of the distorting effects of our atmosphere. In this current research, adaptive optics are similarly used to effectively erase the distortions caused by the tissues.
In order to provide a wide field of view, a prism array with many detailed segments simultaneously gives a view of different parts of a sample. The incoming data is gathered, compiled, and rendered by a computer to provide a dynamic, wide view of activity involving huge numbers of cells. The team applied the technique to visualizing microglia brain cells, seeing tiny vessels of the brain, as well as to detecting the calcium signal processes taking glace inside the brain.
Here’s a video from Purdue University with the researchers behind this technology:
Study in Nature Methods: Large-field-of-view imaging by multi-pupil adaptive optics…