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Automated Microscope Alerts Diagnosticians to Possible Cell Anomalies

By Labmedica International staff writers
Posted on 10 Jan 2012
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Anomalies Image: The Ikoniscope Digital Microscopy System (Photo courtesy of Ikonisys ).
Anomalies Image: The Ikoniscope Digital Microscopy System (Photo courtesy of Ikonisys ).
An automated microscope system runs its own tests and alerts diagnosticians to possible cell anomalies.

The Ikoniscope digital microscopy system provides fully automated slide handling, complete slide scanning, and real-time image capture and analysis. It enumerates and classifies cellular nuclei completely unattended so technologists can focus on sample classification and interpretation.

The Ikonisys (New Haven, CT, USA) system consists of three parts: a robotic handling apparatus, the reagents needed to run the tests, and image processing software to identify problematic proteins or chromosomes.

The robust platform supports the automation of standard tests, as well as Ikonisys' advanced rare cell detection applications. Both provide a noninvasive, accurate alternative to existing technologies.

To use the Iconoscopes microscope system, the lab technician merely needs to load slides with the cell samples, introduce the reagent that will make abnormal cells fluoresce, place up to 25 slides into a cassette, slide the cassette into the machine, and push a button. The robotic handling system will remove each slide one by one and scan the cells to see which ones are abnormal. The machine tells the technician which cells looked suspicious, and he can then spend a couple minutes checking only those.

Petros Tsipouras, professor of biology at the University of Athens (Greece) and Ikonisys chairman and CEO, said that the system could lead to a noninvasive alternative to amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling to check fetuses for chromosomal abnormalities that could indicate Down’s Syndrome.

The system could also look for cancer cells shed by a tumor and circulating in the bloodstream, even when the tumor is too small to image. Such a test could be a useful backup to the prostate specific antigen (PSA) tests given to men to look for prostate cancer that would cut down on unnecessary biopsies.

The company has begun marketing the automated system, starting with a test for bladder cancer and another for abnormalities on amniocytes that would indicate birth defects. It plans to introduce another test, based on a third-party reagent, to look for signs of breast cancer.

Ikonisys has launched a clinical laboratory for its rare-cell-based tests. Under Food and Drug Administration (FDA; Silver Spring, MD, USA) “home brew” rules, the company can use its tests in-house before it receives FDA approval to sell to others.

Related Links:

University of Athens
Food and Drug Administration

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