Implantable Microscopes, Medical Research, Implants Microscopic Biopses December 19th, 2013 Christopher Contag, Standford University Standford, CA
Contag‘s group has built an implantable microscope that will monitor interactions between immu- ne cells and tumors for days or weeks at a time. The mini microscope is shaped like a cylinder and measures 3 mm by 5 mm. It is made of aluminum-coated silicon wafers, and can image at a resolu- tion of 0.1 micrometers. The group recently began testing the mini microscope in rats and mice.
Although the researchers hope to make the device inexpensive and disposable, it currently relies on la- sers that can cost as much as $10,000 apiece. Another challenge is that powering the microscope and re- trieving the images requires running a wire through the animal‘s skin, which can put the animal at risk for infection and can generate scar tissue that interferes with imaging capability. Several research groups are currently working on creating untethered implantable devices that could send out images wirelessly.
The field of in vivo microscopy is still young, but it has already helped scientists to better understand how cells move through the body and interact with other cells. One study by immunologist Philippe Bous- so used multiphoton microscopy to evaluate a treatment that removes T cells from the body, teaches them to attack a tumor, then injects them back into the body. By watching as the immune cells fought the can- cer cells in a living animal, Bousso observed that T cells move much more slowly inside an organism than they do in a petri dish. To make the therapy work, he suggested using a higher dose of the trained T cells.