Sunday, April 27, 2014

Abstract Art and Laser Capture Microscopy

The lab is a place where we see some really cool and beautiful things (especially when doing microscopy).  For this post I want to quickly share a cool picture I took in the lab this week, as well as give you a little background about the method I used to get it.

I took the above picture while doing laser capture microdissection.  In short, this is a method scientists use to collect specific cells or tumors from thin pieces of tissue mounted on a microscope slide, while visualizing it through the microscope.  Similar to other histological techniques, we start this procedure by mounting a thin slice of tissue on a special microscope slide that has a membrane in between the tissue and the glass.  We then place the slide upside down on the laser capture microscope, so that the tissue is free to fall into the collection tube below after it is cut (see figure to the right).  This method can be used to cut out specific cell types, tumors, or whatever.  In my picture above, I just collected a few rectangles of membrane alone, without tissue, and took a picture of it in the collection tube.  It looks like a cool abstract painting, and is a powerful medical research technique as well.

For further reading into laser capture microscopy, check out this link to a helpful book chapter (open source; and source of the figure to the right).

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