Erasmus Optical Imaging Centre selects RCM to improve capabilities for biomedical research

Technology innovators in super-resolution microscopy, Amsterdam-based Confocal.nl, has been chosen to supply one of their Re-scan Confocal Microscope systems to the Erasmus Optical Imaging Centre located in Rotterdam.

Dr Gert-Jan Kremers is head of the Imaging Facility at the Erasmus Optical Imaging Centre (OIC). The OIC is a large imaging facility with 20 high-end fluorescence microscopes. The imaging modalities include widefield, confocal and super-resolution microscopies. They specialise in live cell imaging and functional imaging techniques like FRET and FRAP. Their microscopes are available for scientists from the Erasmus Medical Centre as well as elsewhere from the Netherlands and abroad.

Dr Kremers outlines the motivation for using confocal microscopy. “We are part of an academic medical centre, therefore our microscopes are used for biomedical research. Optical sectioning is crucial for subcellular as well as tissue imaging. We have around 300 users per year, and thus numerous applications. Applications vary from using PALM/STORM to study nuclear protein complexes, to confocal FRAP for studying DNA repair and intravital imaging of tumour development in mice.”

In turn, this led to the interest in Re-Scan Confocal Microscopy (RCM). Dr Kremers continues: “We were particularly interested in the RCM, because of its improved resolution over standard confocal imaging and the superior optical sectioning capability compared to Structured Illumination microscopy (SIM). Another advantage of the RCM is, that you immediately get your super-resolution imaging, without the need for image post-processing.”

“Our location in Rotterdam is near to Amsterdam where the RCM was developed. We followed its progress through conferences and personal contact with Confocal.nl’s co-founder and CTO, Erik Manders. We have been able to contribute to the testing of the RCM and NIR-RCM systems.

rdam Kremer
NETs in a fibrin matrix: One of the studies currently performed on the RCM involves 3D super-resolution imaging of neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs). Neutrophils are part of the human immune system forming a first line of defence against pathogens. NETs are one method of action for neutrophils to catch and kill pathogens invading the human body. The image shows the formation of NETs in a fibrin matrix. Image made by J. Slotman (OIC, ErasmusMC) and J. de Vries (Dept Hematology, ErasmusMC).

To be honest, working together with a small company like Confocal.nl is not always an advantage. Sometimes problems are not solved as quickly as we would have liked. However, this is compensated  by the fact that the company is able to work with our existing hardware and has the flexibility to come up with custom-made solutions. This was essential for integrating the RCM onto our still-operational TIRF microscope. The cost-effective integration of the RCM with our TIRF system was successful. Confocal.nl provided the RCM, camera and PC and integrated our existing hardware, including Roper Laserlaunch, Nikon TiE microscope and Sutter filter wheels and shutters. We are using the Church window emission filter for multicolour imaging. Because we wanted to keep the TIRF system operational as well, we have built a switching device for controlling the lasers either by the RCM or the TIRF. In addition, we have added an USB switch to be able to control the microscope and filters from two individual PCs. We also added a fiber switch to couple the lasers into either the RCM or the TIRF.”

To learn about the Confocal.nl RCM module and how it may be configured into a high-performance scanning confocal imaging system, please visit http://www.confocal.nl. This includes a detailed video describing the principle of RCM.

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