Stem cell classification technique developed at Nottingham University

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A research team at Nottingham University led by Dr Ioan Notingher has developed a non-invasive Raman microspectroscopy (RMS) technique for identifying live stem cells. The technique phenotypically identifies live cardiomyocyte cells within highly heterogeneous cell populations with greater than 96 per cent sensitivity and specificity. Most techniques currently available for characterising stem cells are invasive and make the cells unusable.

Many medical researchers believe that stem cell therapy will revolutionise the treatment of human disease and may provide treatments for many currently incurable diseases. However, one problem still to be overcome is controlling the excessive proliferation of cells with unwanted phenotypes after transplantation to prevent tissue overgrowth and tumour formation.

The team used an Andor iDus 401A-BRDD cooled, deep-depletion, back-illuminated CCD camera attached to a purpose-built Raman microspectrometer. The system records spectra from individual cells derived from micrometric regions of human embryonic stem cells (hESC). The researchers showed that the technique can be used to discriminate between different cell types.

'We needed the shortest possible acquisition times for the Raman spectra and the Andor iDus 401A camera is ideal for this application, allowing measurements of Raman spectra from selected positions in the cells in only 0.5 seconds,' said Dr Notingher. 'Also, the detectors are optimised for the spectral regions in which we work, 800-900nm, which is vital for avoiding photodamage to the cells.

'Together with Professor Denning, also of the University of Nottingham and a leader in regenerative medicine, we have validated the potential of RMS for allowing the non-invasive phenotypic identification of hESC progeny.'

The iDus camera has a -100°C thermo-electric cooling platform and high sensitivity in the near-infrared (NIR). It is also extremely compact for ease of integration to complex experiments.