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Air Force

Biological cell and tissue fixation by laser irradiation

Easy to implement, chemical-free fixation achieves fixation in seconds to minutes—as opposed to hours or even days with conventional methods

Medical & Biotechnology

The purpose of fixing biological specimens is to preserve the sample as close to its natural state as possible so that it may be examined later. Conventional fixation methods typically use physical means such as heat or freeze-drying, or chemical means such as aldehydes or alcohols, to preserve a biological specimen for further preparation and examination. These conventional methods suffer from a variety of limitations. Importantly, fixation using one or more of these current methods may disrupt the structure and composition of the cellular components, creating fixed samples that do not truly reflect the properties of the living cells or tissues. Also conventional fixation methods often take several hours, meaning that the sample structure or properties may be altered while the fixation is occurring. Furthermore, almost all fixation chemicals are extremely hazardous and special precautions must be taken to avoid accidental or chronic overexposure.

Air Force Researchers have developed a laser-based rapid fixation system to reduce or eliminate many of the physiological or chemical changes in the sample that are commonly observed with other fixation processes. This system may have particular importance for immunohistochemical or immunofluorescence methods that visualize molecular markers in cells using antibodies.

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