Imaging entire group of cells with detailed, organelle-level resolution is crucial to basic research, drug discovery and development. Credit: SCIEPRO/SPL/Getty Images

A technique using thin sheets of light can image and analyse multiple organelles, and visualize more than 1,400 cells a minute on a single platform1. The system can advance fluorescence microscopy, cell biophysics, disease biology and optical physics, the researchers say.

Conventional imaging flow cytometry, which combines flow cytometry and microscopy, is restricted by its reliance on point illumination and its inability to rapidly examine a high volume of cells at organelle-level detail.

Researchers at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, developed a multifunctional imaging cytometry (M3IC) system using vertical-aligned multi-sheet array (VAMSA) illumination. The technique lines up several layers of light vertically to examine cells on commercial microfluidic chips.

The researchers used the technique to image organelles in cancerous HeLa cells, a type of human cell line used in research, and healthy human embryonic kidney cells. The method revealed the distribution of mitochondria in the cells, both treated and not treated with drugs.

The system's multicolour imaging capability opens avenues for multi-organelle investigations, determination of critical biophysical parameters, and drug treatment studies on cancer cells.