Kalle Lehto & Ilmari Tamminen  – The eyes of the research project

Young researchers Kalle and Ilmari are a dynamic team. You can feel the drive, eagerness, and great team spirit when you meet them.

Kalle Lehto, a biomedical engineering graduate from Tampere University of Technology, and Ilmari Tamminen, a biochemistry graduate from the University of Tampere, are part of the team developing methods to image, measure, and analyse physiological and biological systems and their functions. Ilmari describes their role as the ‘Eyes of the research project’, referring to a roentgen based X-ray camera in the same laboratory room.

These young doctoral students conduct their interdisciplinary research in close co-operation with doctors and biologists.

“Conducting a study is usually a matter of back and forth communication with the partners. We get samples from doctors or biologists to carry out high resolution imaging according to their initial requirements. Doctors may test, for instance, a new treatment and send us control and treated samples for comparison. We do our “tricks” to acquire accurate 3D images, and analyse the data. After several rounds of this, we have quite a good material bank of the samples before and after the treatments. This way it is possible to learn more about the response of the sample to the experiments and subsequently develop better treatments or drugs.”

Experts in soft tissue imaging

Kalle and Ilmari are specialists in 3D X-ray microtomography (µCT) imaging.

“We capture a large number of X ray images around each sample, and use algorithms to build 3D images to represent the internal structures of the samples. A virtual 3D image reveals much more about the spatial structures than a traditional histological 2D slice, because it enables to study the sample from arbitrary cross sectional directions and make quantitative analyses with microscale accuracy. ”, says Kalle. Ilmari continues: “And for the sake of accuracy and reliability, the sample has to stay completely still during the whole imaging, why we need to improvise quite often. That is why Legos, for instance, are great building blocks to make stable stands for samples of different sizes and shapes. If necessary, we can also 3D print tailored supports, if other options are not available.”

The µCT device is an integral part of the experimental processes within the context of Human Spare Parts. Along with the sample preparation techniques developed at the lab, it is a powerful tool for researchers from cell biology, medicine and biomaterials to explore, analyse, and validate their samples.

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