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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/C536037/1
Title: Advanced biophotonics workstation
Principal Investigator: Dholakia, Professor K
Other Investigators:
Sibbett, Professor W Gunn-Moore, Professor FJ Riches, Professor AC
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Physics and Astronomy
Organisation: University of St Andrews
Scheme: Standard Research (Pre-FEC)
Starts: 01 October 2005 Ends: 30 September 2009 Value (£): 765,010
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Optical Devices & Subsystems
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Healthcare Electronics
Related Grants:
Panel History:  
Summary on Grant Application Form
Light can be use for imaging in biological systems. This allows us to see inside cells and visualise how proteins for example move around. This may be done by moving a pinhole so we take images on at a time (an optical slice) of the cell in question and build up a picture. Alternatively we can use a intense ligth source that only has enough photon energy at the focus position to excite the material and thus re-emti and give us information. Again we scan the focus position through the cell to get the full 3D image. Light can also do other amazing things at the microscopic scale: it can act like a tractor beam that can hold and move cells in a controlled way. This occurs when the cell bends hr refracts the light causing a change in momentum. The cells changes the mometum of the light and due to Newton's third law the cell moves to the part where the light beam is brightest. Additionally we can use a large pattern of light like a large optical sieve that may select cells we like form a population. This sorting is rather like the motion of a two balls of different size on a corrugated iron roof. One ball might be small enough to fit into the grooves in the roor whereas another ball might be big enough to not really feel the effects of the grooves but rather fall down the slope of the roof much more quickly. In essence two cells can do the same thing in a light fields where one responds differently to anther and we can use this to separate away the cells of interest. Finally light can also punch minuscule holes in cells that can allow foreign DNA to enter. The hole then seals itself and we can use this to try and treat cells with new drugs. The aim of the grant is to make a new instrument that for the first time can combine the ability of moving, imaging, sorting and porating cells all in one. This require radical new designs of the optics and combining numerous techniques together. For example the sorting requires a very detailed study of the light pattern ( optical roof') that is right for each of the cell types we wish to study. Then the situation arises as to how we collect these cells and then as to how we hold them how we can image (take optical slices) of the cells interior.Once we build this instrument we will employ it to select cells involved in Alzheimer's disease and study how treating them with various drugs influences them and also we will look a cancer studies where we can select tumour stem cells and study their properties.The instrument will allow biologists and healthcare workers to do all of this in one go on one dedicated instrument and open up new detailed bio-studies that would otherwise be difficult if not impossible to achieve.
Key Findings
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Organisation Website: http://www.st-and.ac.uk