The services offered by the Nikon BioImaging Lab can be roughly divided into 5 themes, varying with service type and level. Unlike a traditional core facility, our services don’t stop at assisted equipment use, but include up to full service imaging, analysis, assay development, and cell culture.
Not sure if your needs fit strictly within one of the below service options? There’s no need to worry, we are flexible in designing a relationship to provide the services you need, and not the ones you don’t. These are simply guidelines to help explain the capabilities of the Nikon BioImaging Lab, and avenues for engaging with us.
Full service assay
Leave it to Nikon. We sit down with you to take a holistic look at your research question and how we can address it, working together to craft and implement a complete assay solution. This includes protocol design, cell culturing services, imaging hardware delivery or operation, image analysis and quantification, reporting, and process refinement. This usually takes the form of contract research services at the Nikon BioImaging Lab, as outlined by the figure below.
Nikon provides “Organ-on-a-Chip Imaging and Analysis contract services” that capture and analyze organ chip images in the most suitable manner for the purpose of research and development relating to drug discovery, based on commissions from each customer, at Nikon BioImaging Labs.
In the drug discovery field, cells and biological tissues are used for evaluating the efficacy and safety of drug candidates under conditions aimed at recapitulating the physiological environment. Before administering a new investigational drug to humans to confirm its efficacy and toxicity, an enormous amount of time and cost is required in order to reproducibly carry out such tests.
In contrast, an organ chip can mimic an organ in-vivo system with physiological functions by culturing cells derived from the organ in a micro-fluidic device on the chip. While this is a revolutionary technology that can be utilized to evaluate the efficacy and toxicity of candidate compounds with high accuracy and efficiency, advanced techniques are required to acquire images of organ chips with complex structures, select analysis conditions, and acquire quantitative data. Nikon has established the optimum conditions for imaging and analysis for each organ-on-a-chip and the specific aim of each experiment, in collaboration with three organ-on-a-chip manufacturers, which are AIM Biotech Pte. Ltd., Nortis Inc., and TissUse GmbH.
Process of “Organ-on-a-Chip Imaging and Analysis contract services”
Full service imaging
Drop off your samples and leave the imaging to Nikon. We’ll send back the imaging data in your preferred format. This option is best for customers who want to do their own image analysis and quantification, but don’t have sufficient time, personnel, and/or equipment availability for desired type of imaging. You choose the level of culturing service that makes sense for the chosen service(s).
Full service analysis
We perform all qualitative and quantitative analyses on images and report complete results. This service applies to both images acquired at the Nikon BioImaging Lab and elsewhere using other microscope systems, including those produced by other manufacturers. This service may even be provided remotely, expanding its availability beyond the Boston metropolitan area. We can even work with our headquarters in Tokyo and New York to craft custom analysis solutions for demanding applications, including solutions based on artificial intelligence/machine learning.
Assisted equipment use
Experienced and semi-experienced users can bring samples and have us walk them through the acquisition and analysis process. We can even provide microscopy education, training, and consulting services to help maximize the effectiveness of your group with image-based research more generally. Once users have had sufficient time to familiarize themselves with the equipment, we can transition to an independent equipment use model as detailed in the next section.
Experienced microscopy users can rent time on our instrumentation at a simple hourly rate, similar to a traditional imaging core facility. Equipment use includes both imaging with our various microscope systems, as well as the use of our NIS-Elements software for image analysis and reporting applications. It is also possible to begin with an assisted equipment use arrangement and to transition to independent use once you are comfortable doing so.