The discovery of optical telescope that has unveiled the mystery of universe, similarly the discovery of advanced optical microscopy, also referred as optical nanoscopy has unveiled the mysteries of nanoscale machinery inside human cells. Imagine the scientific discoveries and advancement in medical diagnoses that can be made if every pathology clinics in the hospitals and research labs in the world are equipped with such a high-end optical nanoscopy solution. Unfortunately, the potential of the such a revolution is severely obstructed by the high-cost and complexity of present day nanoscope solution.
The Nanoscopy Group, at the Department of Physics and Technology at UiT, have invented revolutionary photonic-chip based optical nanoscopy platform. The chip-basednanoscopy exploits mass producible silicon chip that be retrofitted with a standard optical microscope converting it into an advanced nanoscope capable of performing super-resolution imaging.
During this project we have performed super-resolution imaging of tissue samples from three hospitals Universitetssykehuset Nord-Norge (UNN) Tromsø, Radiumhospitalet Oslo and Karolinska University Hospital. Several pathological samples such as from kidney tissue, placenta tissue, and prostate cancer tissue has been imaged with high-resolutionusing chip based nanoscopy methods. The activities from this project are published in several research articles in journals and presented in international conferences.
An university spin-off Chip NanoImaging AS has been created to commercialize and to bring the radical technology to the market. The Chip NanoImaging AS was awarded EU funded European Innovation Council (EIC)-Transition project to further develop the commercial roadmap of this technology for life science andpathology.
The project has demonstrated the utility of performing super-resolution imaging of tissue sections using photonic-chip based microscopy. This is an essential step to bring photonic-chip microscopy, an invention made at UiT to the histopathology market. Pathology requires imaging large areas and to achieve this nn-chip optical microscopy together with fast MUSICAL reconstruction was used to image the tissue samples supporting super-resolution down to sub-100nm. Several research articles have been published in open access, multi-disciplinary and high-impact journals. By collaborating closely with 3 hospitals, UNN, Tromsø, Radium Oslo and Karolinska, Sweden imaging on different kinds of tissue sections were investigated.
1.Prostate and colorectal tissue samples were obtained from the Radium hospital. On-chip TIRF microscopy and on-chip MUSICAL were demonstrated.
2. Human placenta samples were obtained from UiT and UNN; covering Perinatal pathology. On-chip TIRF microscopy, and on-chip MUSICAL were demonstrated.
3.Mouse kidney samples were obtained from UiT, to establish PoC. TIRF microscopy, on-chip MUSICAL and even on-chip single molecule localization were demonstrated.
UiT Technology Transfer office: Norinnova and the PI collaborated closely to develop the business proposition and the investor pitch since 2018. This has resulted in the creation of the university spin-off Chip NanoImaging AS (www.chipnano.com) in Nov 2019. Two patent application in 2015-2017 were filled for on-chip nanoscopy invention and both the patents are licensed to the university spin-off. The spin-off attracted private funding in 2020 and a large EU funding, European Innovation Council (EIC)- Transition project "NanoVision" in 2021. EIC-Transition project has close co-operation between UiT-ChipNanoImaging and Norinnova. This is a good example of public-private co-operation that has continued from the BioTek building towards EU funding.
Moreover, faster reconstruction pipeline of MUSICAL has been developed. An improvement of 16X in the MUSICAL reconstruction has been demonstrated. Moreover, scalability of the MUSCAL reconstruction software has been demonstrated and a follow-up invention disclosure and a patent application on the distributed computing for MUSICAL was submitted.
UiT and SINTEF collaborated on chip design and fabrication. Fabrication partners SINTEF has successful demonstrated fabrication of low-loss Si3N4 waveguides suitable for guiding visible light. This is an important step, where photonic-chips can be produced locally in Norway by SINTEF, strengthening SINTEF and Norway position in the field of integrated photonics.