German company Rapp Optoelectronic will commercially develop a new laser technology called FLUCS (focused light-induced cytoplasmic streaming) which came out of the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics (MPI-CBG), Germany. According to the researchers, FLUCS, a photomanipulation method that allows for influencing movements in cells and embryos, enables non-invasive control of cells for the first time.
Joint technological development
The FLUCS technique was developed by an MPI-CBG research group led by Mortiz Kreysing (now at Karlesruhe Institute of Technology, Germany) in a collaboration with Rapp Optoelectronic. Following the successful joint development and completion of the license agreement, the FLUCS technology was transferred from MPI-CBG to Rapp. The agreement was unveiled in a press release by Max Planck’s technology transfer organization, Max Planck Innovation, which connects researchers with industry partners.
Rapp OptoElectronic now offers FLUCS as a market-ready product, in the form of an add-on module for high-resolution microscopes, to researchers and industrial users. A pilot system is located at the MPI-CBG Light Microscopy Facility in Dresden, Germany, where it is available for use by scientists both inside and outside the MPI.
“We are delighted that the successful cooperation between MPI for Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics and Rapp OptoElectronic GmbH will bring first-class commercial products to the market that are far superior to the current state of the art,” said Bernd Ctortecka, Head of Patents and licensing manager at Max Planck Innovation, in a press release.
Cell biologists and medical researchers rely on imaging to analyze cells, and the ability to manipulate cells under controlled conditions is key to understanding their processes and relationships. However, the tools scientists use to influence cellular components often disturb the sample and affect the results.
In FLUCS, laser beams are used to selectively induce a thermal field in the cytoplasm of a cell, which changes the density and viscosity of the liquid medium and causes a flow. The biomolecules within the cytoplasm are set in motion directly without modifying the sample, as is necessary using methods such as optical tweezers. This leaves the molecules free to interact with their environment.
The MPI-CBG researchers report that they were able to use FLUCS in live worm embryos to generate controlled currents that moved the biomolecules to different areas. This manipulation allowed them to examine the importance of cytoplasmic movement for oocyte polarization and they write that the technique could allow for a better understanding of embryonic development and disorders.
Broad applicability claimed
‘FLUCS makes microscopy interactive and opens up new possibilities for a variety of research areas,’ said Ctortecka. Rapp Optoelectronic notes on its website that the technique could have a wide variety of applications, not only in cell biology, medical research and biophysics, but also in microfluidics.
“FLUCS fills a gap in previously available micromanipulation techniques to study the causes and consequences of intracellular motion,” said Sven Warnck, managing director of Rapp Optoelectronic. “Direct liquid flows are induced by moderately heating the sample with a laser spot. Their path can easily be specified individually using the intuitive software, for example as a line, circle or free form.
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