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Live Cell Imaging Ready to Transform Disease Diagnostics and Drug Discovery

By BiotechDaily International staff writers
Posted on 31 Mar 2014
Breakthroughs in fluorescent applications, electronics, optics, and molecular biology have made live cell imaging technologies more accessible to life scientists trying to better understand biologic dynamics and visualize cellular events in living organisms, according to recent market research. The introduction of “omics” technologies and nanotechnologies into mainstream medicine has already enabled commercial lab-on-a-chip microfluidics systems that analyze cells, DNA, RNA, and proteins. As live cell imaging evolves, it will become a key player in disease diagnostics and drug discovery processes.

New analysis from Frost & Sullivan (Mountain View, CA, USA), an international growth consultancy company, found that live cell imaging technologies will have a large number of niche applications in cancer research, cell biology, developmental biology, and neuroscience. Currently available technologies include live cell-based tests systems and molecular models including high-resolution imaging systems.

“The principal challenges to successful live cell imaging are microscopic settings optimization, fluorescent components selection, and culture environment maintenance,” said technical insights senior research analyst Cecilia Van Cauwenberghe. “Parallel advances in the field of cell culturing will also be critical to ensure accurate, real-time results.”

Utilizing live cell imaging along with fixed cell tests before the former totally replaces the latter, will lower costs and lessen throughput times. Equipment combining microscopes with cell culture incubators is already being marketed, facilitating affordable three-dimensional (3D), real-time assessment, multiplexing, and automation capabilities.

Tightly integrated systems can provide new benchmarks of precision and degrees of efficiency for the study of individual and small groups of live cells. They will enable innovative new ways for multiple cell analysis, simultaneous processing, and multi-day time lapse live cell imaging. However, it is essential that government patent systems protect these innovations, especially since new players in the market emerge from different start points. Similarly, measures must be taken to reduce uncertainty regarding reimbursements, and to establish frameworks assuring balance among tier I companies, small and medium enterprises, and start-ups developing innovative technologies.

“Intellectual property regimes promoting integration between academia and industry in order to deliver new solutions are necessary,” concluded Ms. Cauwenberghe. “Drug producers must collaborate with other stakeholders to translate live cell imaging innovations into clinically meaningful tests that can be used for diagnosis, prognosis and drug development.”

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