The Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine implements RCM

The Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine utilizes Re-scan Confocal Microscopy in their research into neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s Disease.

The Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB) is a multidisciplinary research institute that aims at understanding human health conditions with a special focus on neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s Disease. To that aim, they study model systems as well as patient-derived samples at multiple scales, from individual molecules over cells and tissues, up to the whole organ and organism level. The LCSB is home to more than 200 scientists with diverse backgrounds ranging from the different disciplines of biology, neuroscience and medicine, over engineering and computer science to theoretical and applied chemistry, physics and mathematics. This broad mixture is at the core of the institute’s original approach and successful studies of neurodegenerative disorders.

Research Associate, Dr Aymeric d’Hérouël, describes how he uses microscopy in his research work. With its high resolution, confocal microscopy is an essential tool for the study of structures and molecular interactions or spatially resolved gene expression in tissue samples and cells. A typical application for us is the fluorescent labelling of entire cells or sub-cellular structures, followed by 3D-scanning with confocal microscopy, comparing patient and control samples with the aim to unravel disease-causing mechanisms. Another application is the imaging of live neuronal cells, in which specific organelles are labelled with fluorescent dyes, e.g., mitochondria which play a central role in neurodegeneration. Doing this with a confocal microscope allows Dr d’Hérouël and colleagues to study the behaviour of the labelled organelles in disease models as well as in cells subjected to genetic mutations or environmental stresses.

Dr d’Hérouël describes how he came across Re-scan Confocal Microscopy. “We had come across publications about the RCM method early on. We first saw the system in action at the European Light Microscopy Initiative’s meeting in Debrecen (Hungary). Convinced by the method and happy to see it implemented as a commercial product, we decided to extend our microscopy platform with an RCM module. Although not performing at the same acquisition speed nor have the flexibility as our confocal systems from other microscopy companies, the RCM’s capabilities such as the openness of the system (both hardware and software when using MicroManager-based control) and the demonstrated resolution and image quality justified our decision to purchase.”

Dr Aymeric d’Hérouël (LCSB) coordinates the bio-imaging platform here featuring the RCM module (orange) from Confocal.nl.

He continues: “Confocal.nl is an extremely approachable company and the installation of our system was performed by its chief executives. This was dictated by the company’s age and size. The interaction and communication with them has always been seamless. When problems occurred after the initial setup (and problems do occur with all new systems), the contact was quickly made with their software developers and the issues were quickly resolved. The integration of the RCM with our pre-existing setup was simple. We were already equipped with a Nikon Ti-E microscope and Hamamatsu Orca Flash 4.0v2 camera for epifluorescence imaging and an Omicron laser source from a home-made selective plane illumination microscope. These components were immediately compatible with the RCM module out of the box making the hardware installation at our site essentially plug-and-play. The possibility to reuse and connect all of our present equipment thus also made the RCM a very cost-effective solution to upgrade our epifluorescence setup with a confocal scanner.”

Speaking about the installation in Luxembourg, Confocal.nl’s CEO, Peter Drent, says “We were extremely pleased to have Dr d’Hérouël select the RCM. We worked together to configure an excellent, cost-effective system with high resolution and sensitivity using the lab’s existing fluorescence microscope and accessories.”

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.

A screenshot of a typical work session: RCM-supported study of Alzheimer’s Disease patients’ post-mortem brain samples. In the central window: Reactive astrocytes labelled for GFAP (red), activated microglia labelled for Iba1 (blue), and Thiazine red-labelled amyloid-β plaque (amorphous structures, red and blue).

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