Public Release: 

ICFO becomes a new Leica nanoscopy imaging reference site in Europe

ICFO-The Institute of Photonic Sciences

October 6th marks the beginning of a new partnership between Leica Microsystems and ICFO- The Institute of Photonic Sciences. The new collaboration agreement, signed by the leading microscopy company and the Barcelona based research institute, aims to promote and establish ICFO as a new European Nanoscopy Imaging Reference Site for Leica. As such, ICFO's experts in super-resolution will partner with Leica Microsystems to conceptualize and implement technological improvements to the state-of-the-art systems from Leica.

In 2009, ICFO was the first research institute in Europe to acquire a super-resolution (cw-STED) microscope from Leica Microsystems. Amongst other things, this has allowed important advances in the field of HIV and Alzheimer's research. Since the foundation of ICFO's Superresolution light microscopy and Nanoscopy unit (SLN) in 2009, ICFO has developed expertise in using nanoscopy systems from Leica Microsystems, thus strengthening its relationship with the company over these years, setting the stage for this new collaborative agreement.

The agreement has two main objectives. Firstly, that ICFO and Leica Microsystems lay the foundations for a new research and development (R&D) collaboration to foster the exchange of ideas and know-how, the mutual pursuit of new challenges and research lines within the fields of microscopy and nanoscopy , as well as the search for novel applications in biomedicine and biophysics.

Secondly, far from offering standard services to researchers, the new 3 colour, 3D gated STED system (TCS SP8 STED 3X) will form part of ICFO's current state-of-the-art Super-resolution Light Microscopy and Nanoscopy (SLN) facility. This facility offers a large collection of advanced microscopes and represents a unique opportunity for users to work together with the SLN researchers and technicians in tailor-made solutions, capable of adapting to the specifics needs of advanced researchers from any institution across Europe (including members of the Euro-BioImaging, Corbel European or LaserLab research infrastructure programs), needs that may be difficult to accomplish with current technologies elsewhere.

Through this new R&D agreement, Leica Microsystems and ICFO will work together in the forthcoming years to adapt and advance the microscope's features and capabilities, incorporating new hardware and software, to offer front-end microscopy techniques that are able to operate a step beyond the commercial state-of-the-art instruments currently available and to help advanced users to move forward in their research.

Future applications include neurodegenerative diseases, retinal genetic disorders or bacterial virulence, amongst others. In fact, some of these projects already started to benefit from the unique services of this facility, such as collaborations with Bellvitge Hospital and the University of Barcelona to study retinal degeneration, with Sant Pau Hospital in Barcelona to study beta-amyloid plaques and their effects on Alzheimer's disease, and with the Josep Carreras Foundation for research to better understand and eventually treat Leukemia.

This three-year R&D collaboration expects to bring fruitful results within the European biomedical research community. As Pablo Loza, ICFO researcher and leader of the SLN facility at ICFO comments, "we are thrilled with the addition of this new Leica state-of-the-art microscope and the new collaboration agreement set forward with Leica Microsystems R&D team. We are sure that this instrument, combined with all other instruments within our SLN facility at ICFO, will produce a qualitative jump on today's research and applications and will enable us to delve into a new realm of novel biomedical applications that we are yet to fathom".

Christoph Thumser, Sales Director for Life Science Research EMEA stated "Leica Microsystems are delighted to embark on this collaboration with the ICFO. We are confident that the combination of ICFO's expertise in photonics and optical technology and Leica Microsystems strengths in advanced imaging solutions will lead to great developments in microscopy. The ICFO's strong links to the imaging community through its association with CORBEL and Eurobioimaging will also benefit Leica Microsystems. Due to the SLN's plan to offer open access to the Leica TCS SP8 STED 3X system, we will learn a great deal about how nanoscopy is used today and how it should develop into the future."


About Leica Microsystems

Leica Microsystems develops and manufactures microscopes and scientific instruments for the analysis of microstructures and nanostructures. Ever since the company started as a family business in the nineteenth century, its instruments have been widely recognized for their optical precision and innovative technology. It is one of the market leaders in compound and stereo microscopy, digital microscopy, confocal laser scanning microscopy with related imaging systems, electron microscopy sample preparation, and surgical microscopes.

Leica Microsystems has seven major plants and product development sites around the world. The company is represented in over 100 countries, has sales and service organizations in 20 countries, and an international network of distribution partners. Its headquarters are located in Wetzlar, Germany.

About ICFO

ICFO - The Institute of Photonic Sciences, member of The Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology, is a research center located in a specially designed, 14.000 m2-building situated in the Mediterranean Technology Park in the metropolitan area of Barcelona. It currently hosts 400 people, including research group leaders, post-doctoral researchers, PhD students, research engineers, and staff. ICFOnians are organized in 27 research groups working in 60 state-of-the-art research laboratories, equipped with the latest experimental facilities and supported by a range of cutting-edge facilities for nanofabrication, characterization, imaging and engineering.

The Severo Ochoa distinction awarded by the Ministry of Science and Innovation, as well as 14 ICREA Professorships, 25 European Research Council grants and 6 Fundació Cellex Barcelona Nest Fellowships, demonstrate the centre's dedication to research excellence, as does the institute's consistent appearance in top worldwide positions in international rankings. From an industrial standpoint, ICFO participates actively in the European Technological Platform Photonics21 and is also very proactive in fostering entrepreneurial activities and spin-off creation. The center participates in incubator activities and seeks to attract venture capital investment. ICFO hosts an active Corporate Liaison Program that aims at creating collaborations and links between industry and ICFO researchers. To date, ICFO has created 6 successful start-up companies.

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