Dr Colin Chu standing in a lab with his arms crossed, looking at the camera

Moorfields Eye Charity supported the purchase of a Thunder Microscope that is advancing studies of various eye diseases and vision disorders.

Investing in a Thunder Microscope

Thank you very much to everyone who supported the purchase of this state-of-the-art piece of equipment for the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology by donating to our 2022 summer appeal. Your donations are vital in ensuring this can happen.

Moorfields Eye Charity would like to give special thanks to all our donors for supporting the appeal and the following for making particularly kind contributions: Kusuma Trust UK, Danya Gluschove Corby and Gideon Corby in memory of Deborah Corby.

The new technology couples a high-tech microscope with a multiplex immunohistochemistry technique called IBEX that enables simultaneous visualisation of over 60 cell components and markers in tissue samples from the lab and patient biopsies.

You have helped us access an unprecedented level of imaging technology, bringing focus and deeper insight to a range of eye diseases.

Dr Colin Chu

This provides researchers with an multifaceted cellular view that was impossible previously.

Enhancing research

Several research groups use the system daily, although it will take more time for definite outputs as data collection and analysis are underway.

One project, led by Dr Colin Chu, focuses on generating a human and mouse retinal protein atlas to study uveitis-related inflammation. This atlas will be a valuable resource for the vision research community. 

What is a retinal protein atlas?

Learn more

A retinal protein atlas is a comprehensive resource that provides information about the expression and distribution of proteins in the retina

Extending this project to zebrafish will also allow comparisons of developmental stages across species.

The system produces high-resolution images of zebrafish retinas, allowing the researchers to analyse cellular interactions in eye development and ageing in depth. This work has already been presented at a conference, and a manuscript is being prepared showing the technique is effective in zebrafish.

The system also facilitates PhD research on age-related macular degeneration in human eye tissue samples, which will provide key data to inform computational models of energy flows in the retina. 

Dr Colin Chu demonstrating how the Thunder Microscope is used

Another project has begun using the microscope to study the retinal pigment epithelium.

The system has only been operational for six months, and five different research groups are already using it; 3 Master’s students have utilised the system for projects, and 3 PhD students are starting to use it more regularly. 

The technology is also enabling new collaborations across diverse areas of eye research.

Pathways to improved treatments

While still early for definite research outcomes, investigators are optimistic the deep cellular insight provided by the Thunder Microscope and IBEX will lead to new understandings of vision disorders and the development of improved treatments for conditions like uveitis and macular degeneration.