27th May 2015
‘Mater artium necessitas’ as many a good English schoolboy scholar could have told you in 16th Century England. Myself, I always wondered who the Father of Invention was – and if he paid childcare? Whatever, one thing is nevertheless obvious: necessity is still responsible for a large number of interesting progeny, such has been recently delivered in a Neuroscience laboratory in California.
Scientists there looking at gene expression in mice brains wanted to use larger format slides (2″ by 3″) to mount their sections, thus achieving more slices per slide and making scanning that much easier – in theory. They came unstuck when they found that their existing equipment could not handle the format of slides, or the volume of slides, or scan with the versatility, they now required. New equipment would cost over $250K but, fear not, we know what necessity can do.
In their case a cost-effective, scalable and versatile solution that allows them to scan 25 slices per slide, using two ‘hot-swappable’ racks of 50 slides, that can run unaided though the night if needs be. Their set-up utilises the Prior PL-200 slide loader with a Prior H101A automated XY stage. This arrangement works with many existing microscope systems, such as their Leica DM6000 microscope, and provides an effective high-throughput scanner for less than half the cost of some other systems.
Now, using the Prior PL-200 each brain slice can be identified individually with Objective Imaging’s Surveyor software (with Turboscan) and scanned at 10x producing an image with a resolution of 0.4 um/pixel and a total size of 1.4GB. Bar codes are added for simple filing and archiving. With resulting ‘processing’ speeds up to 25 times faster than conventional techniques, necessity has come up trumps again. And what then of the father of invention? I think ‘cost saving’ should probably be taking the paternity test.