have discovered a way to observe living neurons without damaging them –
in 3D and with up to 50 times greater resolution than before. The
technique, using digital holographic microscopy (DHM), is non-invasive
and can create imagery of hundreds of neurons at once. DHM has the
potential to streamline drug studies involving neurodegenerative
diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, because researchers can
test new drugs more quickly and in greater numbers than before.
research team, from Switzerland’s École Polytechnique Fédérale de
Lausanne (EPLF) and Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois (CHUV),
included neurobiologists, psychiatrists, and advanced imaging
specialists. Results of their collaboration appear in the August 17, 2011 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience.
is a fundamentally novel application for studying neurons with a slew
of advantages over traditional microscopes,” explains Pierre Magistretti
of EPFL’s Brain Mind Institute and a lead author of the paper. “It is
non-invasive, allowing for extended observation of neural processes
without the need for electrodes or dyes that damage cells.”
team member Pierre Marquet adds, “DHM gives precious information not
only about the shape of neurons, but also about their dynamics and
activity, and the technique creates 3D navigable images and increases
the precision from 500 nanometers in traditional microscopes to a scale
of 10 nanometers.”
Digital holographic microscopy (DHM) is digital holography applied to microscopy.
Digital holographic microscopy distinguishes itself from other
microscopy methods by not recording the projected image of the object.
Instead, the light wave front information originating from the object is digitally recorded as a hologram, from which a computer calculates the object image by using a numerical reconstruction algorithm. The image forming lens in traditional microscopy is thus replaced by a computer algorithm.
For the first time, microscopes combine nanometric resolution, real-time and non-invasive three dimensional
observation. These new instruments, based on a
revolutionary patented technology called "Digital Holographic
Microscopy" (DHM), are developed, manufactured and commercialized by
Lyncée Tec SA.
The DHM system is an ideal tool for real-time cell monitoring because
it allows, from a single image acquisition, non-invasive high-resolution
imaging of living cells in their natural environment without use of a
contrast agent. The real-time imaging (up to 15 fps for a 512x512 pixels
image) and the postponed reconstruction (up to 10'000 fps by using
high-acquisition rate camera) make the DHM instrument a system well
suited for the dynamic analysis of morphological modification of cells
due to natural or artificial stimulations such as drugs, electrical or