An interview with Lindy O’Clair at the Society for Neuroscience Annual Conference in 2018, discussing the challenges that scientists face when analyzing neuronal systems over time, and how Sartorius are working to address these challenges through new technologies.
Original interview from News Medical Life Sciences
Product Manager, Sartorius
The brain is a complex system, whose function depends on the dynamic interplay between cells. In order to evaluate the actions and structures of these cells, it is critical for neuroscientists to monitor temporal changes to understand how the brain operates.
Single endpoint measurements simply do not offer insight into the dynamic changes and interactions of cells of the nervous system. When working with complex systems, it is imperative to use repeated measurements to gain insights into both the significant and subtle changes that can occur.
To put this in context, I’ll specifically focus on human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived neurons, which are at the forefront of research and offer great promise as in vitro cell models. In order to take advantage of these sensitive cell models, researchers need the ability to reliably sustain cultures and analyze the changes that occur as these cells mature and differentiate.
In doing so, researchers must be aware that any perturbance of the cells, from plate movement to changes in environmental control (e.g., temperature, humidity, and gas) can significantly affect the biological behavior of their cells, introducing experimental artifacts.
We must appreciate the money, time and effort that scientists are dedicating to evaluate complex disorders using iPSCs and must ensure that the information and insights that they are generating are not misleading due to artificially introduced data.
The IncuCyte Live-Cell Analysis System is designed to alleviate the concern of cell perturbance through uninterrupted incubation; provided by standard tissue culture incubators, and the ability to perform non-invasive measurements while experimental plates remain stationary.
The combination of both environmental control and a mobile optical train that reduces physical disturbance gives researchers the ability to reliably assess dynamic biology over time. Confidence in data is a key requirement when studying subtle changes in complex biology.
Adding the ability to detect these changes kinetically ensures that researchers are not only studying the biology of interest, but that they are also able to evaluate the full-time course that otherwise could have been overlooked with end-point reads.
We recently released a new application to detect neuronal activity which is able to capture calcium oscillations using a unique movie mode acquisition, allowing us to address the need to detect fast kinetics.
One of the most challenging problems faced by neuroscientists is understanding how neuronal networks develop over time, including being able to determine whether neuronal cells are active and how their activity changes over time.
Scientists needed a technology that could capture this longitudinally, and without perturbing the biology. It takes days, weeks or months for some stem cells models to mature and become active. With the IncuCyte® Neuronal Activity Assay, scientists are able to gain unprecedented access to complex, neuronal activity measurements, giving functional insight into cellular changes over time.
The IncuCyte system has the unique ability to analyze multiple cell types and multiple applications. The system gives the ability to study neuronal activity, as I previously mentioned, but it also allows you to evaluate, for example, phagocytic cell clearance by microglia or the chemotactic movement of microglia in real-time.
Providing a multifunctional platform with built-in analysis allows researchers to monitor and measure multiple cell behaviors kinetically, significantly aiding the understanding of functional changes with confidence.
Scientists should take advantage of the fact that the IncuCyte offers multiple applications to study the progressive cellular changes. Such studies are necessary to characterize new models which ultimately provide important insights into human disease.
Combining multiple techniques on a single, reproducible platform which also minimizes cell perturbance truly facilitates a deeper understanding of relevant biological changes. Our goal is to provide researchers with tools and applications that can answer their scientific questions, but also allow them to use the instrument in innovative and new ways to deliver scientific discovery.