The ability to classify cancer and other diseases without the use of stains is possible with a mid-infrared (MIR), laser-based microscope. The Spero® microscope, whose name originates from the Latin derivative of hope, is a breakthrough in label-free or stain- free chemical imaging. The new platform was conceived of and brought to practice with the purpose of making molecular-based cancer diagnoses automated, routine and non-subjective. Previous commercially available infrared imaging instruments could take days or weeks to analyze a single specimen. However, the Spero microscope is able to image a full slide in minutes by leveraging advanced optics in combination with a newly developed technology known as a quantum cascade laser (QCL).
The Spero microscope has the potential to greatly increase productivity of the pathology work-flow while reducing the direct and indirect costs of, often toxic, chemical reagents. This new imaging technology allows pathologists and researchers to “see” disease in an entirely new way and discover biomarkers based on the sample’s native chemistry. This type of automated chemical image analysis can support pathologists in their current work- flow by providing a fast, quantitative and objective second opinion for challenging, time-sensitive diagnostic situations.