Since the discovery of the cell by Robert Hook in the 1665, biologists have been studying cells under microscopes. Currently scientists investigating cell biology have to watch time-lapse images of cell division and annotate by hand when a cell divides, a time-consuming and sometimes inaccurate task. Now, a group of engineers in Drexel University in Philadelphia have developed a program that allows scientists to live-track cells.
The newly developed software is called LEVER, short for Lineage Editing and Validation Program. This software uses sequences of microscopic time-lapses, and can be used interactively in the computer while observing cells. It allows scientists to delineate cells and track them while they move and divide. Furthermore, an enhanced version of the program called LEVER 3-D creates multi-layered microscopic images, which produces a 3-D vision of the cell. This program can be run in a computer with video-games’ graphics, and by putting a pair of 3-D lenses on scientists can observe inside the microscopic cross-section. They can zoom in and rotate, therefore seeing angles of the cell that have never been observed before.
Leading researcher Dr. Andrew Cohen wants to make this software available for all by making it an open-source. It is currently being used for stem-cell research, and it could eventually become a tool used by most cell-biology labs in the world.
Written by Ornela De Gasperin.