Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Seeing Infrared

Combining infrared with light microscopy allows advanced analysis of tissue - no staining required

09 April 2020

Seeing Infrared

Histologists often use dyes to reveal changes in tissue samples linked to disease – here cells (stained purple, top) have a different pattern in healthy breast tissue (pink, top right), to tissue at different stage of cancer (neighbouring images). Often the results are clear, yet sometimes dyes leave ambiguous boundaries, slowing down diagnosis. A new technique brings infrared microscopy, once prohibitively expensive, as an upgrade to light microscopes common in hospitals and universities. Infrared signals change at the boundary between different types of cells and tissue – helping to map out large areas of tissue digitally without the need for staining. (second row). This digital approach allows analysts to segment and label structures in the tissue automatically (bottom rows) – potentially producing faster, more accurate results for doctors and their patients.

Written by John Ankers

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