Using standard CCD photo camera light sensors, without utilizing any lens optics, scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles are able to distinguish between normal and infected cells in blood samples. The technique, developed, and now improved, by Dr. Aydogan Ozcan and colleagues from the California NanoSystems Institute at UCLA, is called Lensless Ultra-wide-field Cell monitoring Array platform based on Shadow (LUCAS) imaging.
The software can count the number of blood cells in a sample as well as determining the cell type by comparing the observed images to a library of cell images. LUCAS has advantages over simple microscope-based analysis because it can image a large field of blood cells, allowing for cell-counting and wide-field sample analysis. But, a microscope is still required for a detailed look at the individual cells.
The great promise of Dr. Ozcan’s work has earned him several prestigious honors for young scientists, most recently the 2009 NIH Director’s New Innovator Award. Given to young faculty by the National Institutes of Health, the award includes funding of $1.5 million over five years to support highly innovative research projects.