paper-plane envelope home office pencil quill pen image images camera play bullhorn connection mic file-text2 file-picture file-music file-play file-video copy folder folder-open folder-plus folder-minus folder-download folder-upload price-tag price-tags ticket phone envelop pushpin location compass map map2 clock alarm fax mobile bubble bubbles user users user-plus user-minus user-check quotes-left quotes-right search pie-chart stats-dots stats-bars airplane cloud-download cloud-upload earth link flag eye eye-blocked arrow-up-left arrow-up arrow-up-right arrow-right arrow-down-right arrow-down arrow-down-left arrow-left2 share amazon google-plus google-drive facebook instagram twitter rss youtube flickr dropbox linkedin file-pdf file-openoffice file-word file-excel

UCL Mechanical Engineering
Faculty of Engineering Sciences


First EBS image: The data that could revolutionise histology

First EBS image: The data that could revolutionise histology

Image of a COVID-19-injured lung where blue represents open airways.

EBS mage of a COVID-19-injured lung where blue represents open airways.  Credit Dr Paul Tafforeau (ESRF)

At present count, Peter Lee and his medical teams in Germany and France have shown the images of a COVID-19-injured lung to more than 100 physicians and biologists worldwide. Every time, he witnesses the same reaction. “First they say, ‘Wow!’ And then they scratch their heads. They’ve never had to think about how to use this kind of information – it’s not existed before.” The images – including the one opposite – are the first data to be publicised after the ESRF’s EBS upgrade, and it is easy to see why people are impressed.

Even to the untrained eye, the level of detail contained in them is astonishing. At the click of a mouse, everything is visible, from the entire organ and its major airways, all the way down to the alveoli and the finest micro-vasculature. But to medical scientists, the images are way more than just aesthetically pleasing. They promise a new era in histology, where entire organs –even entire bodies –can be biopsied without lifting a scalpel, unmasking the complex and interconnected pathologies of disease.

The preliminary data are so striking that in December, Professors Peter Lee and Rebecca Shipley, together with Drs Tafforeau (ESRF) and Walsh, together with their German Medical collaborators, were awarded a $1m (£720k) grant from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative , a philanthropy founded by Priscilla Chan, a paediatrician, and her husband Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook. By 2023, if all goes to plan, Lee and his colleagues will imaged an entire human torso in three dimensions, non-destructively, at hundreds of times better resolution than has previously been achieved.

Read the full story in ERSF News.

Last modified on

Back to top