Menu

Deep Learning Allows for Cell Analysis Without Labeling

A new microscopy program requires no fluorescent markers to identify cell type, nuclei, and other characteristics.

Apr 12, 2018
Kerry Grens

This image shows the program “thinking,” as it considers what cellular structures to identify. IMAGE COURTESY OF DR. FINKBEINER, GLADSTONES INSTITUTES AND UCSFMicrographs of fluorescently labeled cells are undoubtedly beautiful, but they require invasive and sometimes disruptive or deadly protocols to get their glow. To avoid such perturbations, researchers have developed a computer program that can distinguish between cell types and identify subcellular structures, among other features—all without the fluorescent probes our human eyes rely on.

“This approach has the potential to revolutionize biomedical research,” Margaret Sutherland, program director at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, which partially funded the work, says in a statement.

The researchers, who published their work in Cell today (April 12), designed their a neural network, a program modeled after the brain, using an approach called deep learning, which uses data to recognize patterns, form rules, and apply those rules to new information. “We trained the neural network by showing it two sets of matching images of the same cells; one unlabeled and one with fluorescent labels,” coauthor Eric Christiansen, a software engineer at Google Accelerated Science, says a press release. “We repeated this process millions of times. Then, when we presented the network with an unlabeled image it had never seen, it could accurately predict where the fluorescent labels belong.”

With high-quality images, the program correctly identified nuclei within cells just about perfectly. It could also distinguish dead from living cells, spot neurons within groups of cells that included astrocytes and immature dividing cells, and even tell a dendrite from an axon.

“Techniques like this tend to have a democratizing effect,” opening up opportunities for smaller groups, Molly Maleckar, the director of mathematical modeling at the Allen Institute for Cell Science who was not involved in the study, tells Wired

The authors of the study say future work will look to optimize the network and boost its performance on certain tasks where it was less robust, such as picking out neuronal subtypes and finding axons in high-density cultures.

September 2018

The Muscle Issue

The dynamic tissue reveals its secrets

Marketplace

Sponsored Product Updates

StemExpress LeukopakâNow Available in Frozen Format

StemExpress LeukopakâNow Available in Frozen Format

StemExpress, a Folsom, California based leading supplier of human biospecimens, announces the release of frozen Peripheral Blood Leukopaks. Leukopaks provide an enriched source of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) with low granulocyte and red blood cells that can be used in a variety of downstream cell-based applications.

New Antifade Mounting Media from Vector Laboratories Enhances Immunofluorescence Applications

New Antifade Mounting Media from Vector Laboratories Enhances Immunofluorescence Applications

Vector Laboratories, a leader in the development and manufacture of labeling and detection reagents for biomedical research, introduces VECTASHIELD® Vibrance™ – antifade mounting media that delivers significant improvements to the immunofluorescence workflow.

Best Practices for Sample Preparation and Lipid Extraction from Various Samples

Best Practices for Sample Preparation and Lipid Extraction from Various Samples

Download this white paper from Bertin Technologies to learn how to extract and analyze lipid samples from various models!

Bio-Rad Launches CHT Ceramic Hydroxyapatite XT Media and Nuvia HP-Q Resin for Process Protein Purification

Bio-Rad Launches CHT Ceramic Hydroxyapatite XT Media and Nuvia HP-Q Resin for Process Protein Purification

Bio-Rad Laboratories, Inc. (NYSE: BIO and BIOb), a global leader of life science research and clinical diagnostic products, today announced the launch of two new chromatography media for process protein purification: CHT Ceramic Hydroxyapatite XT Media and Nuvia HP-Q Resin.