It has been just over a year since we installed the Opera Phenix™ high-content screening system thanks to the kind donations of over 19 fantastic supporting groups and individuals. This automated confocal microscope can image overnight what would take 100 days to image on manual microscope, vastly speeding up results obtained from drug screening experiments.
We have 7 Academic groups currently using the Opera Phenix™ and two of these groups use it for multiple research projects. These projects are funded by a variety of sources, including charities, research councils and industrial collaborative projects.
The types of experiments being run on the machine range from relatively simple single-cell imaging of cells in culture that can be labelled, for example for mitochondria, through to more complex co-cultures of 2 or more cell types where specific cells may be counted or parts of them quantified for their neuronal like structures.
In particular, there are multiple projects using the Opera Phenix™ to identify potential new treatments for both Motor Neurone Disease and Parkinson’s disease. By taking a small skin biopsy from patients, skin cells with genetic changes particular to those patients can be studied or be reprogrammed into neurons and their support cells; the specialised cells of the nervous system that are affected in neurological diseases. The techniques developed in these studies can be applied to further areas like Alzheimer’s Disease and Multiple Sclerosis and drug screens can be run in addition to the cells being studied to learn more about the disease process and uncover new potential targets for treatment.
Some groups are using the Opera Phenix™ to image zebrafish. This is particularly challenging to consistently orientate the fish in the same way, but we are making good progress using additional features of the Opera Phenix to target specific neuronal populations. Zebrafish can be genetically engineered to model human diseases and provide an excellent way to screen drugs in vivo, for example for neuroprotective effects in Motor Neuron Disease, or for re-myelinating compounds in Multiple Sclerosis. Both patient-derived cell and zebrafish models will help us to look for potential new treatments for MND, Parkinson's disease, Multiple Sclerosis and other neurological disorders; an aim that is a major objective for the NIHR Sheffield Biomedical Research Centre.
Vote from Monday 16th October, for your favourite of the following 4 Opera Phenix™ images that were shortlisted for the competition by a kind member of the public, who also contributed to the cost of installing what is affectionately known as ‘The Opera’ in SITraN:
Terms of the Competition
To vote for your favourite image out of those shortlisted above for the 2017 SITraN high-content screening image:
The following five images below are runners up, they will not appear in the twitter competition but are still being displayed here as interesting scientific images to come through our Opera Phenix high-content screening laboratory:
Aurelie Schwarzentruber, Ruby Macdonald, Mohammed Karami, Chris Hastings and Camilla Boschian are all part of Dr Heather Mortiboy’s team. Noemi Gatto, Chloe Allen and Monika Myszczynska are part of Dr Laura Ferraiuolo’s team. Dr Alex McGown is a member of Dr Tennore Ramesh’s team.
The Opera Phenix™ high content screening system has been a most welcome addition to our drug screening laboratory.