Universiteit Leiden

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NWO grant for super fast analysis of disease progression

New funding allows IBL-researcher Herman Spaink to purchase a measurement device for more studies on human diseases such as cancer and tuberculosis using zebrafish as the model system.

The Netherlands research council (NWO) has awarded a grant to Herman Spaink for obtaining a novel measurement device called Vertebrate Automated Screening Technology (VAST). The VAST will be used in combination with fluorescence microscopy, which will speed up analyses of disease progression considerably. Together with his collaborator Fons Verbeek from the Leiden Institute of Advanced Computer Science, Herman Spaink will further automate screening of disease symptoms in zebrafish larvae ( Danio rerio).

Progression of human diseases such as cancer and tuberculosis can be investigated well in zebrafish larvae (see figure 1), which has become evident from many recent studies at Leiden University. A new analysis system will be developed with the newly bought research tool in which 3D imaging will allos automated recognition of larvae and disease patterns from microscope images. In this manner the effect of new medicines or potential medicinal compounds can be tested at an extremely fast rate.

Figure 1: Eight-day old zebrafish larvae (natural view on top and fluorescently coloured at the bottom). The larvae of zebrafish are approximately 2 mm long and kept in a very thin glass capillary in which the fluid stream is controlled by automatic image recognition. The larvae are put in the right orientation by capillary rotation (shown in the top picture). Subsequently, the same larvae are analysed with fluorescence microscopy, which reveals all their blood vessels (shown in the bottom picture).

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