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Imaging with LEGO

Researchers have come up with an inexpensive, automated way to image biological samples – using the children’s toy, LEGO.

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In a new paper scientists at the Crick, UCL and Aix University in Marseille describe a novel device, built with LEGO parts, that can be adapted to most microscopes.

Project lead Ricardo Henriques said: “Sometimes the best solutions to complex biological questions are remarkably low-tech. By developing hardware that uses inexpensive LEGO components as its building blocks, we’ve built an accessible tool that delivers customisable cutting-edge microscopy at a fraction of the cost.”

The device, called NanoJ-Fluidics (and nicknamed Pumpy McPumpface), enables researchers to observe cells in a highly customisable format. For the very first time, researchers can observe samples of cells at well-defined moments in time, for example when they are dividing or become sick.

The LEGO hardware and accompanying software are fully open-source, enabling other research groups to make their own devices. NanoJ-Fluidics has already been successfully adopted by over 10 labs across the world.  

Image credit | iStock

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Journal-based learning exercises - February 2019

Each article’s contents should be read, researched and understood, and you should then come to a decision on each question. The pass mark is 17 out of 20 questions answered correctly. JBL exercises may be completed at any time until the published deadline date. Please select your choice of correct answers and complete the exercises online at: www.ibms.org/cpd/jbl

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