A human cell is the smallest building block of life and a fragile one – therefore, instruments that can examine without harming the patient are required when scientists seek answers to our most serious endemic diseases.
Swedish PHI has changed the approach with the HoloMonitor system that Optronic has been involved in developing and is now manufacturing in Skellefteå.
“It is very important to us to have a partner that can deliver according to the high demands on precision that the instrument has,” says Lisa Lindström, Product Manager.
Since the first instrument was introduced in 2011, Optronic has been an industrialisation and assembly partner to PHI and the company is today a leader in the medical device development of cutting-edge instrumentation and time-lapse cytometry software. PHI’s customers are in academia and research with a focus on cancer and toxicology, where some of the world’s leading research labs use HoloMonitor but industrial customers and pharmaceutical companies in biotech have also begun to see the benefits.
Optronic has also been involved as support with its knowledge. In parallel with manufacturing, Optronic’s development department, together with PHI’s engineers, is currently running a joint improvement project of a motor table for HoloMonitor. This will increase the precision when moving the motor table, so that you position the cells more precisely when they are to be photographed.
“We have a collaboration that has grown over the years and where we have developed a common trust in each other’s cutting-edge knowledge. Long-term collaboration means that there is a great understanding and we can transform it into a product that is at the leading edge of quality and while being cost-effective for our customer”, says Mikael Westergren, Sales and Marketing Manager at Optronic.
Lisa Lindström believes that the companies have found a successful model of cooperation:
“During the motor table development project, we are having regular reconciliation meetings and work according to a schedule for what should be tested. Everything is being done in Skellefteå and then it is our role as the client to evaluate the tests to see if anything is to be revised or improved at all”, says Lisa and continues:
“We are very pleased to have a partner who has many contacts the world over and where the collaboration just flows. It means a lot that we can feel confident that they will find the solutions and make sure to get the right parts”.
Regenerative medicine in the form of cell therapies is a promising treatment to cure serious endemic diseases such as diabetes, Parkinson’s and several forms of cancer. HoloMonitor has the ability to analyse cellular behaviour in a controlled cell culture environment without exposing the cells to the uncontrolled atmospheric environment in a laboratory. The analysis is done using a low-intensity LED with a wavelength of 365 nanometres, which allows HoloMonitor to bypass the disadvantages of traditional measurement methods where powerful radiation can affect the cells. It is therefore possible to carry out time-consuming examinations and photograph cultured cells every few minutes. The technology behind it, digital holography, also allows you to see the cells without using fluorescent molecules as biomarkers. Biomarkers are common with traditional methods and also involve an unwanted influence on the cells.
“In this way, the cells remain as clean as they can be. The microscopical technique that has traditionally existed kills the cells while using it. It is of course a problem not being able to study the cells over a long period and, moreover, it is not known whether it is the method or the drug that is affecting the cells. Such problems do not arise with our instrument”, explains Lisa.
“Of course, it always feels extra interesting to work with customers who are active in the medtech area, which in itself is incredibly important. The fact that Optronic is able to contribute and be a small part of the research community succeeding in taking these steps to achieve better results in the fight against the most severe diseases feels honourable”, says Mikael.