Live Cell Imaging

Live cell imaging is the study of living cells using images acquired from imaging systems such as microscopes and high content screening systems.  It is used by scientists to give a better view of biological function through the study of cellular dynamics.  In recent years, this technology has become widely accessible and there is an increasing number of leading research biologists using live-cell imaging techniques to produce pivotal publications in a wide range of research areas.

Live cell imaging is becoming a requisite technique for cell biology, developmental biology, cancer biology, and many other related biomedical research laboratories.

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Live cell imaging of an RPE-1 cell, containing HistoneH4 tagged with photoactivatable paGFP, through mitosis. Imaging was performed using the UltraVIEW VoX 3D Live Cell Imaging System with Volocity Software. Movie courtesy of Professor Thomas Cremer, LMU, Munich.


Challenges

A major challenge of live cell imaging is keeping cells alive and functioning as naturally as possible for the duration of the experiment. Fluorescence illumination, especially in the UV range, is harmful for cells and causes photobleaching and phototoxicity.  The use of high power lasers as the excitation source adds to this challenge. Successful experiments must be designed to minimize specimen illumination whilst maintaining the environment.

In addition, some cell types such as cultured cells require incubation during the experiment.  Advanced incubation chambers allow cells to be cultured on microscope stages with minimum disruption.

It is now possible to turn these snapshots into moving pictures of dynamic processes.  With well designed systems, live cell imaging allows research biologists to discover more, achieve greater understanding and provides the confidence and reassurance that their results are true to life.  

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