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BLOOD

Optics and Blood Diagnostics Advancements

Blood ensures proper functionality, health, and maintenance of the cells, tissues, and organs that make up the human body. Ailments of the blood including leukemia, sickle cell disease, and anemia are discovered and treated with the help of modern advances in diagnostic devices such as flow cytometers, cell sorters, and microscopes. These developments would not be possible if not for major advancements in optics over the past two decades. Advancements of optical components such as high end optical filter coatings and multi-element objective lenses have dramatically contributed to research and discoveries in the hematology, the diagnosis and treatment of diseases that affect blood.

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Blood and Optics

Ailments of Blood

Below are common ailments of the blood that are detected by advanced diagnostic techniques such as flow cytometry. Optical advancements allow these ailments to be more easily detected and treated, providing a means for making medical technology and equipment more quick, portable, and simple to use.

Figure 1: Diagram of the Blood Ailments

Diagnostic Techniques

Many techniques and methods are used in order to view, diagnose, and treat blood and other bodily fluids. The most common techniques include Flow Cytometry, Cell Sorting, Optofluidics, and Microscopy.

Flow Cytometry

A powerful technology that analyzes physical and chemical characteristics of particles in a fluid suspension. Qualitative and quantitative data is collected as the particles flow through a laser beam and forward and side scattered light is collected.

Cell Sorting

Fluorescence activated cell sorting (FACS) is a specific branch of flow cytometry that actively sorts a heterogeneous collection of cells into various containers a single cell at a time. This is done using general light scattering and fluorescence principles based off of each cell’s characteristics.

Optofluidics

Technology that combines the field of microfluidics with optics. The primary applications include broad covering liquid displays, energy, and optical lenses, but the primary startup company drive is focusing on lab-on-chip devices, biosensors, and molecular imaging systems.

High Throughput Screening

A powerful drug discovery process used heavily in pharmaceuticals. Typically an automated procedure that allows for quicker deployment of novel drugs with less risk for human error.

Microscopy

Traditional light microscopes are used to view histology slides or prepared cells and samples. Higher end microscopes known as confocal or multiphoton microscopes utilize multiple lasers, scanning mirrors, motorized actuators, and an array of high end detectors to better understand intracellular activity or protein-protein interactions.

Fluorescence-Activated Cell Sorting (FACS)

A specialized type of flow cytometry that uses the fluorescent and scattering characteristics of biological cells to sort them into separate containers. It is used for separating in a heterogeneous mixture one at a time.

Diagnostic Techniques

Example Technique: Flow Cytometry

Flow cytometry is the primary technology for inspection and detection of blood and other bodily fluid ailments. A flow cytometer is made up of three critical sub systems – a fluidics system, an electronic detection system, and an optical system.

Flow Cytometry
Figure 2: Typical Flow Cytometer Setup

Fluidic System: Hydrodynamic Focusing

High flow rates used for qualitative measurements:

  • Phenotyping, or predicting an organism's phenotype using only genetic information gathered from DNA sequencing or genotyping

Lower flow rates used for higher resolution:

  • Cellular and DNA analysis

Electronic Detection System

Forward-scattered light: measurement of diffracted light slightly off-axis of the laser beam, which detects particles within a given size range

Side-scattered light: measurement of mostly refracted and reflected light at any interface in cell where refractive index changes that is proportional to cell complexity and granularity

Equipment

  • Photomultiplier tubes (PMTs): used to detect the weak signals generated by SSC and fluorescence
  • Photodiodes: less sensitive than PMTs and used to detect stronger FSC signals

Optical System

Excitation Optics: laser and lenses for shaping and focusing of laser beam

Emission Optics: various lenses to collect scatter and mirrors, filters, and beamsplitters for proper routing

Fluorophores and Optical Filters for Fluorescence Microscopy

Learn more about the how fluorophores and optical filters work for flourecsence microsocpy.

Product Spotlight

Optics are crucial to many advanced diagnostics techniques and technologies that are used to analyze blood. Beamsplitters and various types of filters, such as bandpass, dichroic, longpass, and shortpass filters, are only a few of the most prominently utilized.

Bandpass Filters

Bandpass Filters

Optical bandpass filters are used to transmit a desired portion of the spectrum while rejecting all other wavelengths outside of the pass band.

Figure 3 (left): Transmission profile of a bandpass filter

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Figure 4: A shortpass filter and a longpass filter can be combined to create a custom bandpass filter
Shortpass Filters

Shortpass Filters

Optical shortpass edge filters are used to transmit wavelengths shorter than a specific cut-off wavelength.

Figure 5 (left): Transmission profile of a shortpass filter

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Longpass Filters

Longpass Filters

Optical longpass edge filters are designed to transmit wavelengths greater than the specific cut-on wavelength of the filter.

Figure 6 (left): Transmission profile of a longpass filter

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Dichroic Filters

Dichroic Filters

Dichroic filters reflect unwanted wavelengths while transmitting the desired portion of the spectrum. This effect is desired for some applications because light can be separated by wavelength into two paths.

Figure 7 (right): Transmission profile of a dichroic filter

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Beamsplitters

Beamsplitters

Beamsplitters are optical components used to split incident light into two separate beam paths. Unlike dichroic filters, the input light isn’t separated by wavelength; it is separated into two paths by a defined reflection/transmission ratio such as 50/50 or 70/30.

Figure 8 (left): Incident light is split into two separate beam paths by this plate beamsplitter

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Edmund Optics® Mission for Blood Diagnostics

  • Design and manufacture optics to improve global blood health
  • Facilitate optical system development to correctly diagnose neglected and emerging blood diseases around the world such as anemia, leukemia, sickle cell disease, myeloma, thalassemia, polycythemia vera, and hemophilia
  • Enable easy-to-use optical devices for physicians, hematologists, nurses, or technicians to quickly and accurately diagnose with the push of a button
  • Research and develop innovative optical components to advance point of care devices for impoverished regions or populations without access to modern healthcare
  • Advance noninvasive optical diagnostics techniques to reduce the global burden that blood diseases cause on general health

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