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As part of the University of Oxford’s mission to provide its researchers with the newest state-of-the-art optical imaging equipment and as part of a strategic partnership with the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology (KIR), the Institute of Developmental and Regenerative Medicine (IDRM), and Carl Zeiss AG (ZEISS), ZEISS has installed a ZEISS Lattice Lightsheet 7 microscope at the KIR.

Into the future: watching biology unfold

The understanding of the numerous and complex processes that underpin human health and disease are dependent on new and advanced imaging techniques that enable the function and behaviour of cells to be observed. Historically, biomedical researchers have made use of a variety of microscopy instruments to try and answer their research questions in different ways. But as many come with limitations in their technical sensitivity, are invasive methods, or are unable to image live cells with spatial context over time, the KIR and IDRM have added a new state-of-the-art microscope to its arsenal of optical imaging technology. 

“The ZEISS Lattice Lightsheet 7 gives us unprecedented resolution to observe biology and its physiological states in four dimensions i.e., three dimensions of space, and over time,” said Professor Marco Fritzsche, Associate Professor and Rosalind Franklin Kennedy Trust Research Fellow. “And it does so in a minimally invasive way. Typically, when you do fluorescence microscopy the cells are damaged or eliminated by the light and that makes it particularly difficult to image in three dimensions. This new innovation from ZEISS overcomes this issue so we can watch biology live as it unfolds over time.”

As the first serial production ZEISS Lattice Lightsheet 7 to be installed globally, it gives the IDRM and KIR the capability to view cells and their cell-to-cell processes in their tissue micro-environment and within whole organism in vivo in space and time. As an example, Professor Michael Dustin, Scientific Director at the KIR, is using the technology to image the formation of an immunological synapse, which will help advance the translation to treatment of human diseases including auto-immune conditions and cancer. Professor Paul Riley, Director of the IDRM, together with Professors Shankar Srinivas and Professor Georg Hollaender will apply the ZEISS Lattice Lightsheet 7 to study the cellular dynamics of embryos during development of their cardiovascular and immune systems, allowing unprecedented insights under physiological conditions.

The strategic partnership between the IDRM and KIR and ZEISS to develop the Lattice Lightsheet 7 technology is unique in Oxford and beyond. “Together we are committed to advancing optical imaging technology and advanced image analysis to improve research in the field of biomedical sciences.” We expect that technologies such as the ZEISS Lattice Lightsheet 7 will replace conventional imaging technologies in the future,” said Marco.

“ZEISS has a long history of close collaboration with cutting edge scientists. This strategic partnership clearly demonstrates that ZEISS still lives the philosophy laid down by its founding partners 175 years ago. This is a very proud moment for everyone involved” said Dr. Ben Ewins, ZEISS account manager for Oxford University.

The strategic collaboration between Oxford and ZEISS at KIR will yield exciting opportunities for innovation in the field imaging.  We [ZEISS] are particularly excited about starting work on some important topics such as software artificial intelligence and large scale data management.  This is a great opportunity for two historic institutions to work together on some extremely relevant and cutting edge topics.