PORTLAND, Ore.—Instrumentation and workflow company FEI in Hillsboro, Ore., and the Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) recently announced an expansion of their OHSU/FEI Living Lab for Cell Biology collaboration.
“The FEI-OHSU Living Lab was first developed and announced in 2011, with the goal to combine FEI’s expertise in scientific instrumentation and workflow management with OHSU’s world-class expertise in research to drive progress in cancer research,” says Dr. Lee Pullan, TEM applications manager for FEI. “The original discussion started when OHSU received a significant donation from Nike Chairman Phil Knight and his wife, Penny, to further the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute’s mission on cancer research.”
The newly extended agreement includes the installation of a complete correlative microscopy workflow in the new Collaborative Life Sciences Building (CLSB) on OHSU’s campus. The OHSU-FEI correlative light and electron microscopy suite has added a new instrument, the FEI CorrSight. The complete correlative microscopy solution will facilitate new approaches for cancer and related disease research.
FEI’s CorrSight is an advanced light microscope that integrates multiple sample preparation protocols for correlative experiments. This enables researchers to examine live-cell dynamics with visible light microscopy and to quickly fix those cells for follow-up light and electron microscopy when a targeted event or structure is recognized.
Researchers will use the CorrSight system to develop correlative light and electron microscopy assays for high-content drug screening applications.
The OHSU/FEI Living Lab is part of the OHSU Center for Spatial Systems Biomedicine (OCSSB), which combines physics, biomedical engineering, chemistry and biology to study how cancer cells and other diseases progress in the body. The multidisciplinary OCSSB is part of the OHSU School of Medicine and the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute. The new CorrSight will help contribute to the Cancer Institute’s near-term goals of enabling early discovery of precancerous lesions, creating low-toxicity treatment plans and advancing effective strategies to better manage advanced cancers.
“Establishing the OHSU/FEI Living Lab with FEI in 2011 equipped us with high-performance tools to visualize cell and tissue structures at levels of detail that were not possible before, with a specific mission to explore how cancer cells function differently as they spread from the site of origin to other parts of the body,” explained Dr. Joe Gray, the director of the OCSSB and associate director for translational research for the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute, in the news release about the lab expansion. “With the installation of the new CorrSight microscope, we will now have a complete correlative workflow that will allow us to better understand complex diseases, such as HIV and cancer.”
According to Sandy Fewkes, media contact for FEI, two-thirds of the research at the OHSU Living Lab is cancer-related, with the remaining third focusing on other diseases.
The expanded OHSU/FEI Living Lab collaboration objectives include improving image acquisition speed, automation, data handling and image analysis. Objectives also encompass more challenging electron microscopy sample preparation protocols and three-dimensional (3D) electron microscopy acquisition. The collaboration will also explore the development of high-content screening workflows for biologically relevant problems.
“The collaboration will help FEI in optimization and further development of a full correlative workflow using different imaging modalities that meet the changing needs of life scientists in studying cell structure and function in space and time in order to address important questions in many diseases, such as cancer, cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases,” relates Pullan.
FEI’s vice president and general manager of life sciences, Peter Fruhstorfer, has stated, “Over the past several years, imaging technologies have made their first steps toward usage in automated high-content screening environments for unsupervised discovery. The rich variety and wide field of view of light microscopy, when combined with the exquisite detail offered by electron microscopy, enables researchers to find and analyze molecular-scale structures and events as part of a drug discovery process. An automated combination of these techniques could be a powerful tool for high-content screening of candidate compounds.”
Aside from the new CorrSight system, the CLSB facility includes several other microscopes from FEI that complete the correlative microscopy workflow, including the Titan Krios transmission electron microscope (TEM), a Tecnai T12 TEM, a Tecnai with iCorr fully integrated light/electron TEM and a Helios NanoLab DualBeam focused ion beam/scanning electron microscope for sample preparation and 3D studies of cell structures. FEI’s MAPS software facilitates integration between images from the electron microscope and images from other microscopes within the facility.
The OHSU/FEI Living Lab provides the OHSU and FEI teams with a forum to contribute feedback on the microscopes, as well as the experiments for which they are used. FEI and OHSU will establish the first correlative workflow demonstration showcase at the CLSB facility, which is jointly owned and operated by OHSU, Oregon State University and Portland State University. Researchers are able to use this workflow to begin with live-cell imaging, continue to fixing cells and then transfer to high-resolution electron microscopy, all while working from a single software platform.
“A working protocol will be defined, enabling a known specific cell sample type to be run through an entire workflow during demonstrations,” according to Fruhstorfer. “The workflow will involve multiple steps, leveraging the live-cell imaging capability of the complete set of instruments, as well as the scientific expertise of OHSU and FEI researchers and staff.”