Friday, April 12, 2013

ASLMS 2013 keynote highlights clinical opportunities

At this year's American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery (ASLMS) annual conference, held April 3-7 in Boston, MA, keynote speaker Robert S. Langer, Sc.D., David H. Koch Institute Professor at MIT, joked that he "...probably knows the least about lasers." But his expertise in tissue engineering is bringing about some interesting collaborations.

One collaboration involves R. Rox Anderson, MD, of the Wellman Center for Photomedicine at Mass General Hospital, who specializes in non-scarring laser treatments for skin rejuvenation--many of which he conceived and developed. For beauty startup Living Proof--which Langer co-founded (and is co-owned by Hollywood A-lister Jennifer Aniston!)--the two scientists are working on a flowable, skin-contouring, polymer emulsion system that provides a safe, noninvasive topical alternative to existing lower-lid treatment modalities. Called Strateris, the polymer activates instantly on contact to under-eye skin to form a breathable, hydrating, invisible, elastic film that imparts natural skin aesthetics at the lower-lid application site, while reducing the appearance of under-eye bags and wrinkles.1

The Strateris technology has undergone a pilot clinical study at three different test sites, testing 24 women between the ages of 40 to 65. No word is available on when the product will be released commercially.

1. A. Kauvar et al., J. Amer. Acad. Dermatol., 68, 4, 1, AB20 (April 2013).

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

1064 nm Raman: Pervasive at Pittcon 2013

An undated page on the site of Real-Time Analyzers, Inc. (Middletown, CT) states that the company's RamanID system is "the only portable Raman analyzer that employs 1064 nm laser excitation to avoid fluorescence interference." But in fact, the 1064 wavelength is being offered in more and more Raman instruments--both portable and non-portable--as was evident at the Pittcon 2013 (March 17-21, Pittsburgh, PA) exposition.
On the portable side, B&W Tek (Newark, DE) demonstrated the practical value of this wavelength: Its new 1064 nm fiber optic Raman spectrometer produces a clear spectrum for grapeseed oil, whereas 785 Raman generated no signal at all.

Rigaku Raman Technologies (San Jose, CA) showed off a range of portable Raman analyzers offering 1064 (in addition to 532 and 785), including its super compact handheld system, FirstGuard, so easy to use that it lets dock workers quickly screen shipments of pharmaceuticals.

BaySpec (San Jose, CA) has streamlined its transportable Agility single/dual-band Raman spectrometer, with a 1064-excitation option, to accept a snap-in vial or pill holder. On the non-portable side, BaySpec offers its Nomadic Raman microscopes--now with 1064 excitation--without requiring switchout of laser and detector.

Speaking of Raman microscopes, Renishaw (Hoffman Estates, IL) was on hand to talk about its highly flexible inVia. It accommodates up to three multi-line lasers on a standard baseplate and more on a laser table, and it fully supports more than 20 laser wavelengths, from 229 nm all the way up to--you guessed it--1064 nm.
B&W Tek's Robert Chimenti explained the appeal of Raman: High selectivity with no sample prep. By comparison, Fourier transform infrared (FT-IR) spectroscopy, which also offers great selectivity, does require sample prep. With the addition of 1064, that appeal increases.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Swanson inspires with OCT review at Laser Marketplace Seminar

In his presentation on optical coherence tomography (OCT) during the 2013 Laser Marketplace Seminar (at Photonics West), Eric Swanson, serial entrepreneur and publisher of OCTnews, provided a comprehensive tour of OCT applications and implementations -- the vast majority of them biomedical. Swanson is a fantastic spokesperson for OCT thanks not only to his pioneering role in its development, but also to his tracking and analysis of its progress. For instance, he outlined the ROI of government support for OCT by discussing the technology's impact on the economy in terms of dollars and jobs, and on patient care (one OCT scan happens every second, he said).
But OCT's overall trajectory continues to climb, and Swanson predicts that gastrointestinal imaging will be its next big success. Yes, he is associated with a company (NinePoint Medical) commercializing this application, but he bases his prediction on analysis of metrics including market needs, technology maturity, and publications to date. Other applications, too, will surely benefit from the size reduction enabled by chip-based OCT (pursued by Tornado Spectral Systems, and others), which promises to dramatically reduce cost as well. 
An audience member worried aloud that physicians may be overwhelmed by OCT data they don’t know how to interpret, but Swanson waived off that concern saying that the same concerns existed in ophthalmology and cardiology markets early on. 
Swanson pointed out that of the continually increasing number of companies involved in OCT, more than 40% are associated with government-funded research; and he suggested that companies interested in commercializing technology partner with such researchers. Good news for small business: He also noted that 78% of OCT companies are startups.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Cell Bio 2012 event brims with biophotonics innovations

Seemingly well-timed in the midst of the 2012 holiday season, the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB)'s annual meeting, held December 15-19, 2012, in San Francisco, CA, this year, had a lot to give to its some-7,000 attendees through its exhibition, symposia, and poster presentations. While not solely a bio-optics and biophotonics event, the innovations for these markets present on the exhibit floor, etc., didn't disappoint.

A handful of companies had chosen ASCB as their venue to unveil some of their latest innovations in this space. Here are a couple of note:

At Bio-Rad Laboratories' (Hercules, CA) booth, the company showed its S3 Cell Sorter, "the first truly walk-up automated cell sorter available," they claim, as scientists need minimal training to operate it. Equipped with one or two lasers and up to four fluorescence detectors, the benchtop system has fully enclosed fluidics and temperature control in a 2.3 x 2.1 x 2.1 ft footprint. What's more, the system is ready to sort samples in less than 30 minutes for high-throughput applications such as polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and fluorescent cell imaging.

Scientific instrumentation maker FEI (Hillsboro, OR) launched a light/electron microscopy combo that enables scientists to see structural and functional relationships at various resolutions in their samples with unprecedented detail, says the company. The iCorr fluorescence microscope module, which is available either as an integrated component on the company's Tecnai transmission electron microscopes or as as a retrofitted module on already installed Tecnai platforms, delivers correlative results in minutes rather than hours or days, thanks to a white-light LED source and image acquisition at 10 fps.

For BioOptics World's full report on the event, please stay tuned for the January/February 2013 issue. Until then, have a wonderful New Year!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

FiO poised for lots of bio

Next week's Frontiers in Optics 2012, the Optical Society's annual meeting held in Rochester, NY and known as FiO, has a schedule packed with biophotonics and bio-optics research to be presented.

On Monday morning, October 17, Plenary Session speaker David R. Williams of the University of Rochester will describe use of adaptive optics for imaging single cells in the living retina, enabling microscopic views with unprecedented detail. Other biomedical applications employing adaptive optics are on the schedule as well.

FiO will feature quite a bit on point-of-care applications, too: Stephen Boppart of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) will speak about optical coherence tomography (OCT) solutions for primary care physicians, and Holger Schmidt of the University of California-Santa Cruz will cover using optofluidics for molecular diagnostics.

Microscopy and OCT research will round out the bio offering. Elizabeth Hillman of Columbia University and Chris Xu of Cornell will each explore imaging of the living brain; Jeff Squier of the Colorado School of Mines will discuss multiphoton microscopy; and Gabriel Popescu of UIUC and Jerome Mertz of Boston University will talk about novel phase microscopy methods. In OCT, Zhongping Chen of the University of California-Irvine will cover intravascular applications, while David Huang of the Casey Eye Institute will discuss application to corneal imaging.

Please be sure to watch for tweets from the show floor while BioOptics World is there -- if you don't follow us already, just go to

Monday, October 1, 2012

Take 10 minutes now

What if just 10 minutes could make a big difference? This is Science Advocacy Week (October 1-5, 2012), when your 10 minutes, added to my 10 minutes, added to 10 minutes from scientists across the nation adds up to a spotlight on bio-optics in particular, and science in general.

Not everyone understands how important basic research is--a fact that is unfortunate at best and, in the case of elected officials, potentially devastating. This week presents a great opportunity to heighten the profile of your work and its impact. 

Next week the news media will report the 2012 Nobel Prizes in science, and when President Obama’s correspondence office staff sorts through incoming messages to pass along to the president, they look for examples that are timely, compelling, and representative of topics in the news (according to Mike Kelleher, former director of that office). So the timing's perfect; let’s do what we can to see that science topics dominate the in boxes of our elected officials this week.  

A nice page on the website makes it super easy to send the same message to all of your federal lawmakers at once. Very cool!  

When composing your message, keep in mind that just last month, lawmakers heard highlights from the NRC’s new Optics & Photonics: Essential Technologies for Our Nation report, which discussed the importance of these technologies in life sciences among many other areas.    

Also keep in mind these tips, drawn from
o  Be polite.
o  Keep it short and accessible to laymen, and write to the interests of those who will read it.
o  Be personable, be yourself.
o  Don’t be shy, don’t use all caps.
o  Contact only your own lawmakers (using this link ensures you will), and make it clear at the top of your message that you are a constituent

I always like to give to charity when there’s an opportunity for matching donations, and I think this week’s advocacy campaign amounts to about the same thing in the interests of science. Let’s add our voices to those of the American Society for Cell Biology and the and the Genetics Society of America. Please join me in going to bat for bio-optics.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Optics report makes 2 key recommendations for life sci

What do you think of the two key recommendations for the health and medicine sector made by the Harnessing Light Committee of the U.S. National Academies of Science's National Research Council?  Released on August 13, 2012 the report (called Optics & Photonics: Essential Technologies for Our Nation) aims to help American policy makers and leaders advance the national economy and provide "visionary guidance and support" for future development of optics and photonics--which have fundamentally changed the life sciences among many other areas.

The report devotes one of its ten chapters (chapter 6) to the discussion of biomedicine, although discussion of life sciences appears in other sections. You can download the entire publication or individual chapters here; look for the blue and gray "download free pdf" link.

Here are the recommendations in a nutshell:
1. The U.S. optics and photonics industry should create instruments to allow simultaneous measurement of all immune-system cell types in a blood sample.
2. The industry should focus on ways to increase the rate at which new pharmaceuticals can be safely developed and proved effective.

Next week, on September 12, Energy Secretary Steven Chu and former Intel CEO/Chairman Craig Barrett will headline an invitation-only briefing for lawmakers, and a reception with federal agency staff, to discuss the report. Thomas Baer of Stanford University, a powerful advocate for biomedical optics and one of the Harnessing Light Committee members, will participate. Meantime, we at BioOptics World would like to know, what do you think of the recommendations?