3D Tech Gives Researchers 'Enlightened' View

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A South Bend-based startup is creating 3D technology designed to give doctors and researchers a more complete picture of tissue samples. Enlightened Diagnostics Inc., which was created by University of Notre Dame faculty and is run by students, has developed hardware that connects to commonly-available microscopes in pathology laboratories. In an interview for a recent edition of our Life Sciences INdiana e-newsletter, engineering graduate student Cody Narciso says the two-part device eliminates some manual lab work.

The technology works like this: tissue samples are loaded into a postage stamp-sized chip. The chip pumps fluid into the sample with tiny channels so technicians don't have to change out and dye specimens by hand. The slides are placed into the microscope unit and viewed or digitally stored for later use.

Narciso describes the process "a laser focuses at a very specific plane within a specimen, so you're looking only at a single slice, essentially. You can focus that laser up and down throughout the specimen to get different slices, and from that, you can get a full 3D picture of what's going on." He adds, "there's been a lot of work recently that has implicated the context of the surrounding environment to how a tumor actually will behave."

The students involved in the company cover areas of expertise including science fields, business and law.

In May, the group earned three awards from the world-renowned Rice Business Plan Competition that featured more than 40 other teams. Enlightened Diagnostics also took home $19,000 from the contest.

The startup plans to file for patents and as Narciso says "put it through proving ground" before beginning pre-clinical trials.

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