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CRi Oosight™ Imaging System a Key to Breakthrough Gene Replacement Method With Potential To Prevent Inherited Mitochondrial Diseases

Cathy Boutin

31 August 2009

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 CRi Oosight™ Imaging System a Key to Breakthrough Gene Replacement Method 

With Potential To Prevent Inherited Mitochondrial Diseases 


-Study Reported in Nature- 


August 27, 2009, Woburn, MA— U.S. researchers using CRi’s Oosight™ imaging 

system have developed a gene transfer technique that has potential to prevent inherited 

diseases passed on from mothers to their children through mutated DNA in cell 

mitochondria. The research, which demonstrated the technique in rhesus monkeys, 

appears in the Aug. 26 issue of the journal Nature


The group, headed by Dr. Shoukhrat Mitalipov of the Oregon National Primate Research 

Center and the Oregon Stem Cell Center, extracted the nuclear DNA from the mother’s 

egg, guided by the Oosight system, and transplanted it into another egg that had the 

nucleus removed. The technique allowed the mother to pass along her nuclear genetic 

material to her offspring without her mitochondrial DNA. The eggs were fertilized and 

transplanted into surrogate mothers, resulting in the birth of four apparently healthy 

monkeys. Defects in DNA of mitochondria, the cell’s “power plants,” are associated with 

a wide range of human diseases. 


The Oosight system solved a key problem in avoiding damage to the nuclear DNA during 

the transfer procedure by providing a non-invasive imaging technique for visualizing the 

genetic material. Traditional visualization methods employ a stain or involve exposure to 

ultraviolet light, either of which can damage DNA.  The Oregon team had used the 

Oosight system in previous research, published in Nature in 2007, that provided a 

foundation for the current study. In that research, they cloned rhesus monkey embryos 

and used them to create embryonic stem cells.  


The Oosight system uses polarized light to generate high-contrast, real-time images of 

biological features such as the spindle apparatus housing the chromosomes and other 

filamentous structures within the egg, such as the multi-layer zona pellucida, without the 

addition of toxic stains or labels, while simultaneously generating useful quantitative data 

of their structural composition. Two of the four offspring, Spindler and Spindy, were 

named after the spindle, which is what the Oosight system is used to visualize. 


“This study underscores the potential of the Oosight system to advance reproductive 

medicine and highlights the enabling capabilities or our polarized light technology,”  

 said George Abe, president and CEO of CRi.   


"With this advance, the Oosight imaging system, which is already widely used in fertility 

clinics, has offered new insights and possibilities into reproductive health and medicine," 

said Gary Borisy, director and CEO of the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) in 

Woods Hole, MA. The Oosight system is based on imaging technology originally 

developed by MBL scientists Rudolf Oldenbourg and Michael Shribek, working in 

collaboration with David Keefe, M.D., of the University of South Florida College of 



In In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) the Oosight system is used as an aid to intracytosplasmic 

sperm injection (ICSI). The system not only provides assurance that the genetic material 

is not damaged by the injection needle, but it can also be used as a measurement tool to 

assess egg viability in both fresh and frozen eggs. Data show that an egg with a weak or 

malformed spindle and inner layer zona as measured with the system is much less likely 

to result in pregnancy. 


Other scientists have welcomed news of the advance. Mitochondria-expert Douglas 

Wallace of the University of California, Irvine, said “results were exciting” and the 

technique is “potentially very interesting.” Although he did caution that “there are safety 

issues that are going to need to be addressed before one could think about it in humans.” 


The Nature article reported that 15 embryos were transplanted into nine surrogate 

mothers; three became pregnant, one with twins, and four offspring were born (only three 

of these offspring have been reported in the Nature paper) The success rate is similar to 

that of conventional in vitro fertilization.  


A sample movie of the enucleation process that Dr. Mitalipov used is available at 


(movie courtesy Dr. Mitalipov, OHSU). 


Contact CRi at for more details. 




Cambridge Research & Instrumentation, Inc. (CRi) is a leader in biomedical imaging, 

and is dedicated to providing comprehensive solutions that analyze disease-specific 

information from biological and clinical samples in the combined physiological, 

morphological, and biochemical context of intact tissues and organisms for a variety of 

applications. With over 80 patents pending and issued, CRi’s award-winning innovations 

are being utilized around the world to enable our customers to perform leading research 

and provide better healthcare. 


For more information contact: 


Cathy Boutin 

Marketing Manager 

Cambridge Research & Instrumentation, Inc. (CRi) 

Tel. 781-935-9099 x180 



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Date Added: 31 August 2009   Date Updated: 18 January 2013
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