NT-MDT S&L (Ireland) is working in collaboration with the University of Limerick (UL) and a number of other Universities across Europe to develop an instrument, which will be capable of screening patients cells for Alzheimer's disease. The University of Limerick scientists have been awarded €5.4 million from the European Community's Seventh Framework Programme to develop the device and will lead the European team.

NT-MDT will provide key input into the project and will develop a detection complex from prototype stage through to a commercial table-top device. The project will be called LANIR (Label Free Nanoscopy Using Infra-Red).

Currently there are 7.7 million new cases of dementia each year worldwide, implying that there is a new case of dementia somewhere in the world every four seconds. At present there is no test to screen for this disease. The World Alzheimer Report 2011 identified that the current lack of detection is a significant barrier to improving lives of people with Alzheimer's disease.

NT-MDT and its partners will develop an instrument that will be easy to use, flexible and allow direct imaging of the chemistry and the structure of very small features. The technique uses infrared radiation as a source of detection but breaks away from its physical diffraction limit so as to see features as small as 70 nanometers in lateral dimension, which is comparable to the size of a virus. The technique is also capable of seeing buried features without the need for destroying the surface of a cell or a material. The global microscopy market in 2008 was estimated to be in excess of billion and this new technology will be applicable to all areas of this growing market.

The LANIR device will be based on infrared spectroscopy, which is a technique used as a routine testing method for many materials. LANIR technology improves the resolving power by almost 5 orders of magnitude. This is truly ground breaking technology which at the same time has a solid foundation which will allow it to be widely applied by scientists and engineers from a range of disciplines.

NT-MDT S&L (Ireland) welcome the collaboration; "This project is a good example of the strength of UL in transnational research where research strongly impacts the industrial community. UL and NT-MDT's ability to work closely together, both in terms of R&D and geographic proximity, will be extremely helpful in implementing and commercializing the breakthrough technology from LANIR into a robust product."

Source: NT-MDT