(19)
(11)EP 3 254 085 B1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT SPECIFICATION

(45)Mention of the grant of the patent:
29.04.2020 Bulletin 2020/18

(21)Application number: 16705683.7

(22)Date of filing:  05.02.2016
(51)International Patent Classification (IPC): 
G01N 21/64(2006.01)
G02B 21/24(2006.01)
(86)International application number:
PCT/US2016/016886
(87)International publication number:
WO 2016/127128 (11.08.2016 Gazette  2016/32)

(54)

AN INSTRUMENT FOR BIOLOGICAL ANALYSIS

EIN INSTRUMENT ZUR BIOLOGISCHEN ANALYSE

INSTRUMENT D'ANALYSE BIOLOGIQUE


(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR

(30)Priority: 06.02.2015 US 201562112910 P

(43)Date of publication of application:
13.12.2017 Bulletin 2017/50

(73)Proprietor: Life Technologies Corporation
Carlsbad, CA 92008 (US)

(72)Inventors:
  • CHEN, Mingsong
    Carlsbad, California 92008 (US)
  • BOO, Kuan Moon
    Carlsbad, California 92008 (US)
  • TOH, Tiong Han
    Carlsbad, California 92008 (US)
  • AGUANNO, Mauro
    Carlsbad, California 92008 (US)
  • LAU, Soo Yong
    Carlsbad, California 92008 (US)
  • YEO, Huei Steven
    Carlsbad, California 92008 (US)
  • TEO, Wei Fuh
    Carlsbad, California 92008 (US)

(74)Representative: Hoffmann Eitle 
Patent- und Rechtsanwälte PartmbB Arabellastraße 30
81925 München
81925 München (DE)


(56)References cited: : 
US-A- 5 672 881
US-A1- 2003 214 581
US-A1- 2006 072 190
US-A1- 2009 201 577
US-B1- 6 646 678
US-A- 5 932 872
US-A1- 2005 148 846
US-A1- 2009 166 570
US-B1- 6 180 948
  
      
    Note: Within nine months from the publication of the mention of the grant of the European patent, any person may give notice to the European Patent Office of opposition to the European patent granted. Notice of opposition shall be filed in a written reasoned statement. It shall not be deemed to have been filed until the opposition fee has been paid. (Art. 99(1) European Patent Convention).


    Description

    Background


    Technical Field



    [0001] The present disclosure relates generally to systems, devices, and methods for observing, testing, and/or analyzing one or more biological samples, and more specifically to systems, devices, and methods comprising an optical system for observing, testing, and/or analyzing one or more biological samples.

    Description of the Related Art



    [0002] US 2003/0214581 A1 discloses an imaging method and apparatus, an image processing method and apparatus, and an imaging system.

    [0003] US 2005/0148846 A1 discloses an imaging apparatus.

    [0004] US 6,180,948 B1 discloses an image recording system for evaluating analytical test elements.

    [0005] US 5,672,881 B1 discloses a charge-coupled device imaging apparatus.

    Summary of the Invention



    [0006] In an aspect of the present invention, there is provided an instrument according to Claim 1.

    Brief Description of the Drawings



    [0007] Embodiments of the present invention may be better understood from the following detailed description when read in conjunction with the accompanying drawings. Such embodiments, which are for illustrative purposes only, depict novel and non-obvious aspects of the invention.

    [0008] The invention is defined in accordance with the appended claims. All embodiments and aspects which do not fall under the scope the claims are to be considered as representing examples that do not form part of the invention.

    [0009] The drawings include the following figures:

    FIG. 1 is a schematic representation of a system.

    FIG. 2 is a schematic representation of an excitation source.

    FIG. 3 is a normalized spectrum plot of various light sources.

    FIG. 4 is plot of spectral integration over various wavelength ranges for the light source spectrums shown in FIG. 3

    FIGS. 5 and 6 are perspective views of an instrument housing.

    FIG. 7 is a solid model representation of an optical and sample processing system.

    FIG. 8 is a magnified, solid model representation of the optical system shown in FIG. 7.

    FIG. 9 is an exploded view of a portion of the sample processing system shown in FIG. 7.

    FIG. 10 is a section view of a portion of the optical system shown in FIG. 7.

    FIG. 11 is a top perspective view of an imaging unit.

    FIG. 12 is a sectional view of the imaging unit shown in FIG. 11

    FIGS. 13 and 14 are bottom perspective views of the imaging unit shown in FIG. 11.

    FIGS. 15-17 are magnified views of portions of the imaging unit shown in FIG. 11.

    FIG. 18 is a section view of the system shown in FIGS. 6 and 8.

    FIGS. 19 and 20 are schematic representations of a system.


    Detailed Description of the Drawings



    [0010] As used herein the terms "radiation" or "electromagnetic radiation" means radiant energy released by certain electromagnetic processes that may include one or more of visible light (e.g., radiant energy characterized by one or more wavelengths between 400 nanometers and 700 nanometers or between 380 nanometers and 800 nanometers) or invisible electromagnetic radiations (e.g., infrared, near infrared, ultraviolet (UV), X-ray, or gamma ray radiation).

    [0011] As used herein an excitation source means a source of electromagnetic radiation that may be directed toward at least one sample containing one or more chemical compounds such that the electromagnetic radiation interacts with the at least one sample to produce emission electromagnetic radiation indicative of a condition of the at least one sample. The excitation source may comprise light source. As used herein, the term "light source" refers to a source of electromagnetic radiation comprising an electromagnetic spectrum having a peak or maximum output (e.g., power, energy, or intensity) that is within the visible wavelength band of the electromagnetic spectrum (e.g., electromagnetic radiation within a wavelength in the range of 400 nanometers to 700 nanometers or in the range of 380 nanometers and 800 nanometers). Additionally or alternatively, the excitation source may comprise electromagnetic radiation within at least a portion of the infrared (near infrared, mid infrared, and/or far infrared) or ultraviolet (near ultraviolet and/or extreme ultraviolet) portions of the electromagnetic spectrum. Additionally or alternatively, the excitation source may comprise electromagnetic radiation in other wavelength bands of the electromagnetic spectrum, for example, in the X-ray and/or radio wave portions of the electromagnetic spectrum. The excitation source may comprise a single source of light, for example, an incandescent lamp, a gas discharge lamp (e.g., Halogen lamp, Xenon lamp, Argon lamp, Krypton lamp, etc.), a light emitting diode (LED), an organic LED (OLED), a laser, or the like. The excitation source may comprise a plurality of individual light sources (e.g., a plurality of LEDs or lasers). The excitation source may also include one or more excitation filters, such as a high-pass filter, a low-pass filter, or a band-pass filter. For example, the excitation filter may include a colored filter and/or a dichroic filter. The excitation source comprise a single beam or a plurality of beams that are spatially and/or temporally separated.

    [0012] As used herein, an "emission" means an electromagnetic radiation produced as the result an interaction of radiation from an excitation source with one or more samples containing, or thought to contain, one or more chemical and/or biological molecules or compounds of interest. The emission may be due to a reflection, refraction, polarization, absorption, and/or other optical effect by the a sample on radiation from the excitation source. For example, the emission may comprise a luminescence or fluorescence induced by absorption of the excitation electromagnetic radiation by one or more samples. As used herein "emission light" refers to an emission comprising an electromagnetic spectrum having a peak or maximum output (e.g., power, energy, or intensity) that is within the visible band of the electromagnetic spectrum (e.g., electromagnetic radiation within a wavelength in the range of 420 nanometers to 700 nanometers).

    [0013] As used herein, a lens means an optical element configured to direct or focus incident electromagnetic radiation so as to converge or diverge such radiation, for example, to provide a real or virtual image, either at a finite distance or at an optical infinity. The lens may comprise a single optical element having an optical power provided by refraction, reflection, and/or diffraction of the incident electromagnetic radiation. Alternatively, the lens may comprise a compound system including a plurality of optical element, for example, including, but not limited to, an acromatic lens, doublet lens, triplet lens, or camera lens. The lens may be at least partially housed in or at least partially enclosed by a lens case or a lens mount.

    [0014] As used herein, the term "optical power" means the ability of a lens or optic to converge or diverge light to provide a focus (real or virtual) when disposed within air. As used herein the term "focal length" means the reciprocal of the optical power. As used herein, the term "diffractive power" or "diffractive optical power" means the power of a lens or optic, or portion thereof, attributable to diffraction of incident light into one or more diffraction orders. Except where noted otherwise, the optical power of a lens, optic, or optical element is from a reference plane associated with the lens or optic (e.g., a principal plane of an optic).

    [0015] As used herein, the term "biological sample" means a sample or solution containing any type of biological chemical or component and/or any target molecule of interest to a user, manufacturer, or distributor of the various embodiments of the present invention described or implied herein, as well as any sample or solution containing related chemicals or compounds used for the purpose of conducting a biological assay, experiment, or test. These biological chemicals, components, or target molecules may include, but are not limited to, DNA sequences (including cell-free DNA), RNA sequences, genes, oligonucleotides, molecules, proteins, biomarkers, cells (e.g., circulating tumor cells), or any other suitable target biomolecule. A biological sample may comprise one or more of at least one target nucleic acid sequence, at least one primer, at least one buffer, at least one nucleotide, at least one enzyme, at least one detergent, at least one blocking agent, or at least one dye, marker, and/or probe suitable for detecting a target or reference nucleic acid sequence. In various embodiments, such biological components may be used in conjunction with one or more PCR methods and systems in applications such as fetal diagnostics, multiplex dPCR, viral detection, and quantification standards, genotyping, sequencing assays, experiments, or protocols, sequencing validation, mutation detection, detection of genetically modified organisms, rare allele detection, and/or copy number variation.

    [0016] According to embodiments of the present invention, one or more samples or solutions containing at least one biological targets of interest may be contained in, distributed between, or divided between a plurality of a small sample volumes or reaction regions (e.g., volumes or regions of less than or equal to 10 nanoliters, less than or equal to 1 nanoliter, or less than or equal to 100 picoliters). The reaction regions disclosed herein are generally illustrated as being contained in wells located in a substrate material; however, other forms of reaction regions according to embodiments of the present invention may include reaction regions located within through-holes or indentations formed in a substrate, spots of solution distributed on the surface a substrate, samples or solutions located within test sites or volumes of a capillary or microfluidic system, or within or on a plurality of microbeads or microspheres.

    [0017] While instruments according to embodiments of the present invention are generally directed to dPCR and qPCR, embodiments of the present invention may be applicable to any PCR processes, experiment, assays, or protocols where a large number of reaction regions are processed, observed, and/or measured. In a dPCR assay or experiment according to embodiments of the present invention, a dilute solution containing at least one target polynucleotide or nucleotide sequence is subdivided into a plurality of reaction regions , such that at least some of these reaction regions contain either one molecule of the target nucleotide sequence or none of the target nucleotide sequence. When the reaction regions are subsequently thermally cycled in a PCR protocol, procedure, assay, process, or experiment, the reaction regions containing the one or more molecules of the target nucleotide sequence are greatly amplified and produce a positive, detectable detection signal, while those containing none of the target(s) nucleotide sequence are not amplified and do not produce a detection signal, or a produce a signal that is below a predetermined threshold or noise level. Using Poisson statistics, the number of target nucleotide sequences in an original solution distributed between the reaction regions may be correlated to the number of reaction regions producing a positive detection signal. In some embodiments, the detected signal may be used to determine a number, or number range, of target molecules contained in the original solution. For example, a detection system may be configured to distinguish between reaction regions containing one target molecule and reaction regions containing two or at least two target molecules. Additionally or alternatively, the detection system may be configured to distinguish between reaction regions containing a number of target molecules that is at or below a predetermined amount and reaction regions containing more than the predetermined amount. In certain embodiments, both qPCR and dPCR processes, assays, or protocols are conducted using a single the same devices, instruments, or systems, and methods.

    [0018] Referring to FIG. 1, a system, apparatus, or instrument 100 for biological analysis comprises one or more of an electronic processor, computer, or controller 200, a base, mount, or sample block assembly 300 configured to receive and/or processes a biological or biochemical sample, and/or an optical system, apparatus, or instrument 400. Without limiting the scope of the present invention, system 100 may comprise a sequencing instrument, a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) instrument (e.g., a real-time PCR (qPCR) instrument and/or digital PCR (dPCR) instrument), capillary electrophoresis instrument, an instrument for providing genotyping information, or the like.

    [0019] Electronic processor 200 is configured to control, monitor, and/or receive data from optical system 400 and/or base 300. Electronic processor 200 may be physically integrated into optical system 400 and/or base 300. Additionally or alternatively, electronic processor 200 may be separate from optical system 400 and base 300, for example, an external desktop computer, laptop computer, notepad computer, tablet computer, or the like. Communication between electronic processor 200 and optical system 400 and/or base 300 may be accomplished directly via a physical connection, such as a USB cable or the like, and/or indirectly via a wireless or network connection (e.g., via Wi-Fi connection, a local area network, internet connection, cloud connection, or the like). Electronic processor 200 may include electronic memory storage containing instructions, routines, algorithms, test and/or configuration parameter, test and/or experimental data, or the like. Electronic processor 200 may be configured, for example, to operate various components of optical system 400 or to obtain and/or process data provided by base 300. For example, electronic processor 200 may be used to obtain and/or process optical data provided by one or more photodetectors of optical system 400.

    [0020] In certain embodiments, electronic processor 200 may integrated into optical system 400 and/or base 300. Electronic processor 200 may communicate with external computer and/or transmit data to an external computer for further processing, for example, using a hardwire connection, a local area network, an internet connection, cloud computing system, or the like. The external computer may be physical computer, such as a desktop computer, laptop computer, notepad computer, tablet computer, or the like, that is located in or near system 100. Additionally or alternatively, either or both the external computer and electronic processor 200 may comprise a virtual device or system, such as a cloud computing or storage system. Data may be transferred between the two via a wireless connection, a cloud storage or computing system, or the like. Additionally or alternatively, data from electronic processor 200 (e.g., from optical system 400 and/or base 300) may be transferred to an external memory storage device, for example, an external hard drive, a USB memory module, a cloud storage system, or the like.

    [0021] In certain embodiments, base 300 is configured to receive a sample holder or sample carrier 305. Sample holder 305 may comprise a plurality or array of spatially separated reaction regions, sites, or locations 308 for containing a corresponding plurality or array of biological or biochemical samples 310. Reaction regions 308 may comprise any plurality of volumes or locations isolating, or configured to isolate, the plurality of biological or biochemical samples 310. For example, reaction regions 308 may comprise a plurality of through-hole or well in a substrate or assembly (e.g., sample wells in a standard microtiter plate), a plurality of sample beads, microbeads, or microspheres in a channel, capillary, or chamber, a plurality of distinct locations in a flow cell, a plurality of sample spots on a substrate surface, or a plurality of wells or openings configured to receive a sample holder (e.g., the cavities in a sample block assembly configured to receive a microtiter plate).

    [0022] Base 300 may comprise a sample block assembly configured to control the temperature of sample holder 305 and/or biological samples 310. Sample block assembly 300 may comprise one or more of a sample block, a Peltier device or other apparatus for controlling or cycling temperature, and/or a heat sink (e.g., for aiding in stabilizing a temperature). Base 300 may comprise a thermal controller or thermal cycler, for example, to provide or perform a PCR assay.

    [0023] Reaction apparatus 300 may include sample holder 305. At least some of the reaction regions 308 may include the one or more biological samples 310. Biological or biochemical samples 310 may include one or more of at least one target nucleic acid sequence, at least one primer, at least one buffer, at least one nucleotide, at least one enzyme, at least one detergent, at least one blocking agent, or at least one dye, marker, and/or probe suitable for detecting a target or reference nucleic acid sequence. Sample holder 305 may be configured to perform at least one of a PCR assay, a sequencing assay, or a capillary electrophoresis assay, a blot assay. In certain embodiments, sample holder 305 may comprise one or more of a microtiter plate, substrate comprising a plurality of wells or through-holes, a substrate comprising a one or more channels or capillaries, or a chamber comprising plurality of beads or spheres containing the one or more biological samples. Reaction regions 308 may comprise one or more of a plurality of wells, a plurality of through-holes in substrate, a plurality of distinct locations on a substrate or within a channel or capillary, a plurality of microbeads or microspheres within a reaction volume, or the like. Sample holder 305 may comprise a microtiter plate, for example, wherein reaction regions 308 may comprise at least 96 well, at least 384, or at least 1536 wells.

    [0024] In certain embodiments, sample holder 305 may comprise a substrate including a first surface, an opposing second surface, and a plurality of through-holes disposed between the surfaces, the plurality of through-holes configured to contain the one or more biological samples, for example as discussed in Patent Application Publication Numbers US 2014-0242596 and WO 2013/138706. In such embodiments, the substrate may comprise at least 3096 through-holes or at least 20,000 through-holes. In certain embodiments, sample holder 305 may comprise an array of capillaries configured to pass one or more target molecules or sequence of molecules.

    [0025] In certain embodiments, system 100 may optionally include a heated or temperature controlled cover 102 that may be disposed above sample holder 305 and/or base 300. Heated cover 102 may be used, for example, to prevent condensation above the samples contained in sample holder 305, which can help to maintain optical access to biological samples 310.

    [0026] In certain embodiments, optical system 400 comprises an excitation source, illumination source, radiation source, or light source 402 that produces at least a first excitation beam 405a characterized by a first wavelength and a second excitation beam 405b characterized by a second wavelength that is different from the first wavelength. Optical system 400 also comprises an optical sensor or optical detector 408 configured to receive emissions or radiation from one or more biological samples in response to excitation source 410 and/or to one or more of excitation beams 405a, 405b. Optical system 400 additionally comprises an excitation optical system 410 disposed along an excitation optical path 412 between excitation source 402 and one or more biological samples to be illuminated. Optical system 400 further comprises an emission optical system 415 disposed along an emission optical path 417 between the illuminated sample(s) and optical sensor 408. In certain embodiments, optical system 400 may comprise a beamsplitter 420. Optical system 400 may optionally include a beam dump or radiation baffle 422 configured reduce or prevent reflection of radiation into emission optical path 417 from excitation source 402 that impinges on beamsplitter 420.

    [0027] In the illustrated embodiment shown in FIG. 1, excitation source 402 comprises a radiation source 425. Radiation source 425 may comprise one or more of at least one an incandescent lamp, at least one gas discharge lamp, at least one light emitting diode (LED), at least one organic light emitting diode, and/or at least one laser. For example, radiation source 425 may comprise at least one Halogen lamp, Xenon lamp, Argon lamp, Krypton lamp, diode laser, Argon laser, Xenon laser, excimer laser, solid-state laser, Helium-Neon laser, dye laser, or combinations thereof. Radiation source 425 may comprise a light source characterized by a maximum or central wavelength in the visible band of the electromagnetic spectrum. Additionally or alternatively, radiation source 425 may comprise an ultraviolet, infrared, or near-infrared source with a corresponding maximum or central wavelength within on one of those wavelength bands of the electromagnetic spectrum. Radiation source 425 may be a broadband source, for example, having a spectral bandwidth of at least 100 nanometers, at least 200 nanometers, or at least 300 nanometers, where the bandwidth is defined as a range over which the intensity, energy, or power output is greater than a predetermined amount (e.g., where the predetermined amount is at or about 1%, 5%, or 10% of a maximum or central wavelength of the radiation source). Excitation source 402 may additionally comprise a source lens 428 configured to condition emissions from radiation source 425, for example, to increase the amount of excitation radiation received at sample holder 305 and/or into biological samples 310. Source lens 428 may comprise a simple lens or may be a compound lens including two or more elements.

    [0028] In certain embodiments, excitation source 402 further comprises two or more excitation filters 430 moveable into and out of excitation optical path 412, for instance, used in combination with a broadband excitation source 402. In such embodiments, different excitation filters 430 may be used to select different wavelength ranges or excitation channels suitable for inducing fluorescence from a respective dye or marker within biological samples 310. One or more of excitation filters 430 may have a wavelength bandwidth that is at least ±10 nanometers or at least ±15 nanometers. Excitation filters 430 may comprise a plurality of filters that together provide a plurality of band passes suitable for fluorescing one or more of a SYBR® dye or probe, a FAM™ dye or probe, a VIC® dye or probe, a ROX™ dye or probe, or a TAMRA™ dye or probe. Excitation filters 430 may be arrange in a rotatable filter wheel (not shown) or other suitable device or apparatus providing different excitation channels using excitation source 402. In certain embodiments, excitation filters 430 comprise at least 5 filter or at least 6 filter.

    [0029] In certain embodiments, excitation source 402 may comprise a plurality of individual excitation sources that may be combined using one more beamsplitters or beam combiners, such that radiation from each individual excitation source is transmitted along a common optical path, for example, along excitation optical path 412 shown in FIG. 1. Alternatively, at least some of the individual excitation sources may be arranged to provided excitation beams that propagate along different, non-overlapping optical paths, for example, to illuminate different reaction regions of the plurality of reaction regions 308. Each of the individual excitation sources may be addressed, activated, or selected to illuminate reaction regions 308, for example, either individually or in groups or all simultaneously. In certain embodiments, the individual excitation sources may be arrange in a one-dimensional or two-dimensional array, where one or more of the individual excitation sources is characterized by a maximum or central wavelength that is different than that of at least one of the other individual excitation sources in the array.

    [0030] In certain embodiments, first excitation beam 405a comprises a first wavelength range over which an intensity, power, or energy of first excitation beam 405a is above a first predetermined value and second excitation beam 405b comprises a second wavelength range over which an intensity, power, or energy of second excitation beam 405b is above a second predetermined value. The characteristic wavelength of the excitation beams 405a, 405b may be a central wavelength of the corresponding wavelength range or a wavelength of maximum electromagnetic intensity, power, or energy over the corresponding wavelength range. The central wavelengths of at least one of the excitation beams 405 may be an average wavelength over the corresponding wavelength range. For each excitation beam 405 (e.g., excitation beams 405a, 405b), the predetermined value may be less than 20% of the corresponding maximum intensity, power, or energy; less than 10% of the corresponding maximum intensity, power, or energy; less than 5% of the corresponding maximum intensity, power, or energy; or less than 1% of the corresponding maximum intensity, power, or energy. The predetermined values may be the same for all excitation beams 405 (e.g., for both excitation beams 405a, 405b) or the predetermined values may be different from one another. In certain embodiments, the wavelength ranges of the first and second excitation beams 405a, 405b do not overlap, while in other embodiments at least one of the wavelength ranges at least partially overlaps that of the other. In certain embodiments, the first and second central wavelengths are separated by at least 20 nanometer. In certain embodiments, at least one of the first and second wavelength ranges has a value of at least 20 nanometer or at least 30 nanometers.

    [0031] Excitation optical system 410 is configured to direct excitation beams 405a, 405b to the one or more biological samples. Where applicable, references herein to excitation beams 405a, 405b may be applied to embodiment comprising more than two excitation beams 405. For example, excitation source 402 may be configured to direct at least five or six excitation beams 405. Excitation beams 405a, 405b may be produced or provided simultaneously, may be temporally separated, and/or may be spatially separated (e.g., wherein excitation beams 405a is directed to one reaction region 308 and excitation beams 405b is directed to a different reaction region 308). The excitation beams 405 may be produced sequentially, for example, by sequentially turning on and off different-colored individual radiation source 425 that are characterized by different wavelengths or by sequentially placing different color filters in front of a single radiation source 425. Alternatively, excitation beams 405a, 405b may be produced simultaneously, for example, by using a multi-wavelength band filter, beamsplitter, or mirror, or by coupling together different individual radiation source 425, such as two different-colored light emitting diodes (LEDs). In some embodiments, excitation source 402 produces more than two excitation beams 405, wherein excitation optical system 410 directs each of the excitation beams to one or more biological samples 310.

    [0032] Referring to FIG. 2, excitation source 402 may comprise at least 5 individual radiant sources 425a, 425b, 425c, 425d, 425e that are combined to transmit along a common excitation optical path 412. Excitation source 402 may also comprise corresponding sources lenses 428a, 428b, 428c, 428d, 428e. Radiation from radiant sources 425a, 425b, 425c, 425d, 425e may be combined using a plurality of combiner optical elements 429a, 429b, 429c. Combiner optical elements 429a, 429b, 429c may comprise one or more of a neutral density filter, a 50/50 beamsplitter, a dichroic filter or mirror, a cube beamsplitter, or the like. Combiner optical elements 429a, 429b, 429c are one example of how to combine various individual sources 425 and it will be appreciated that other combinations and geometrical arrangements of individual radiant sources 425 and combiner optical elements 429 may be used. One or more of individual radiant sources 425a, 425b, 425c, 425d, 425e may be characterized by a central wavelength and/or wavelength range that is differ from that of the other individual radiant sources 425a, 425b, 425c, 425d, 425e.

    [0033] Referring to FIGS. 3-4, the spectral distribution of radiation source 425 may be selected in a non-obvious manner to enable at least five excitation beams 405 of different colors or excitation channels to be used with one common beamsplitter 420, while simultaneously maintaining acceptable or predetermined data throughput for all excitation channels, for example, during each cycle of the qPCR assay. As used herein, the term "excitation channel" means each of several, distinct electromagnetic wavelength bands providing by an excitation source (e.g., excitation source 402) that are configured to illuminate one or more biological samples (e.g., biological samples 310). As used herein, the term "emission channel" means each of several, distinct emission wavelength bands over which electromagnetic radiation is allowed to pass onto an optical sensor or detector (e.g., optical sensor 408).

    [0034] FIG. 3 shows the relative energy over the wavelength spectrum for three different radiation sources. The dashed line plot is the spectrum of a Halogen lamp (herein referred to as "Source 1") characterized by relatively low energy levels in the blue wavelength range of the visible spectrum and increasing energy until a peak at about 670 nanometers. The dash-dot spectrum plot is that of a commercially available LED light source (herein referred to as "Source 2"), which has peak energy at around 450 nanometers and a lower peak from about 530 nanometers to about 580 nanometers, then steadily decreasing energy into the red wavelength range of the visible spectrum. The solid line plot is the spectrum of another LED light source (herein referred to as "Source 3" having e.g., an exemplary spectrum for excitation source 402). FIG. 4 shows integrated energy over various excitation channels for each of the three sources shown in FIG. 3, where the spectrums for these channels are those of typical excitation filter used in the field of qPCR. The wavelength ranges and excitation filter designations are shown below in Table 1, where X1 is excitation channel 1, X2 is excitation channel 2, and so forth.
    Table 1. Spectral bandwidth of excitation filters used in FIG. 4.
    Excitation Filter ChannelWavelength Range (nanometers)
    X1 455-485
    X2 510-530
    X3 540-560
    X4 570.5-589.5
    X5 630.5-649.5
    X6 650-674


    [0035] In the field of qPCR, one important performance parameter is the total time to obtain emission data for samples containing multiple target dyes. For example, in some cases it is desirable to obtain emission data from multiple dyes or probes over one or more emission channels, designated M1-M6, for each excitation channel used to illuminate the sample(s) (e.g., M1-M6 with X1, M2-M6 with X2, M3-M6 with X3, M4-M6 with X4, M5-M6 with X5, and/or M6 with X6). The inventors have found that when Source 2 is used in a system having a single, broadband beamsplitter for five or six excitation/emission filter channels (e.g., excitation channels X1-X6 with combinations emission channels M1-M6), the amount of time to obtain data for excitation channel 5 and/or excitation channel 6 could be unacceptably long for certain applications. To remedy this situation, it is possible to use one or more narrow band, dichroic beamsplitters for excitation channels 1 and/or 2 to increase the amount of excitation light receive by the sample(s), and the amount of emission light received by the sensor (so that the overall optical efficiency is increased by using dichroic beam splitter, in this case). However, this precludes the use of a single beamsplitter arrangement, as shown in FIG. 1 and, therefore, the corresponding advantages of a single beamsplitter configuration (e.g., reduced size, cost, complexity) are lost. A better solution has been discovered in which a light source, such as Source 3, is used in combination with a single beamsplitter (e.g., a broadband beamsplitter such as a 50/50 beamsplitter), such as beamsplitter 420. It has been found that the relative energy in excitation channels X1, X5, and/or X6 may be used to identify an excitation source 402 suitable for use with a single beamsplitter embodiment to provide acceptable total integration time for collecting emission data over five or six excitation channels. Using LED Source 2 and LED Source 3 as examples, the following data shown in Table 2 below may be derived for the data shown in FIGS. 3 and 4.
    Table 2. Normalized LED intensity of each filter channel with normalization over channel 2.
    RatioSource 2Source 3
    X1/X2 2.02 3.00
    X2/X2 1.00 1.00
    X3/X2 1.20 0.98
    X4/X2 1.09 0.89
    X5/X2 0.49 0.90
    X6/X2 0.38 0.90


    [0036] Based on such data, the inventors have found that, in certain embodiments, improved performance (e.g., in terms of shorter Channel 1 integration time) may be obtain when X1/X2 is greater than 2.02 (e.g., greater than or equal to 3). Additionally or alternatively, in other embodiments, improved performance (e.g., in terms of shorter Channel 1 integration time) may be obtain when X5/X2 is greater than 0.49 (for example, greater than or equal to 0.9) and/or when X6/X2 is greater than 0.38 (for example, greater than or equal to 0.9). For the criteria set forth here, "X1" means an excitation channel that has a spectral output characterized by a maximum power, energy, or intensity within the wavelength band including 455-485 nanometers; "X2" means an excitation channel that has a spectral output characterized by a maximum power, energy, or intensity within the wavelength band including 510-530 nanometers; "X5" means an excitation channel that has a spectral output characterized by a maximum power, energy, or intensity within the wavelength band including 630.5-649.5 nanometers; "X6" means an excitation channel that has a spectral output characterized by a maximum power, energy, or intensity within the wavelength band including 650-674 nanometers

    [0037] Referring again to FIG. 1, excitation beams 405 are directed along excitation optical path 412 during operation toward sample processing base 300, for example, toward reaction regions 308 when sample holder 305 is present. When present, source lens 428 is configure to condition excitation beams 405, for example, to capture and direct a large portion of the emitted radiation from excitation source 402. In certain embodiments, one or more mirrors 432 (e.g., fold mirrors) may be incorporated along excitation optical path 412, for example, to make optical system 400 more compact and/or to provide predetermined package dimensions. FIG. 1 illustrated one mirror 432; however, addition mirrors may be used, for example to meet packaging design constraints. As discussed in greater detail below herein, additional lenses may be disposed near sample holder 305, for example, in order to further condition the excitation beams 405 and/or corresponding emissions from biological samples contained in one or more reaction regions.

    [0038] Emission optical system 415 is configured to direct emissions from the one or more biological samples to optical sensor 408. At least some of the emissions may comprise a fluorescent emission from at least some of the biological samples in response to at least one of the excitation beams 405. Additionally or alternatively, at least some of the emissions comprise radiation from at least one of the excitation beams 405 that is reflected, refracted, diffracted, scattered, or polarized by at least some of the biological samples. In certain embodiments, emission optical system 415 comprise one or more emission filters 435 configured, for example, to block excitation radiation reflected or scattered into emission optical path 417. In certain embodiments, there is a corresponding emission filter 435 for each excitation filter 430. Referring to FIG. 8, in certain embodiments, the excitation filter 430 are arranged in an excitation filter wheel 431 and/or the emission filters 435 are arranged in an emission filter wheel 436.

    [0039] In certain embodiments, emission optical system 415 comprises a sensor lens 438 configured to direct emissions from at least some of the biological samples onto optical sensor 408. Optical sensor 408 may comprise a single sensor element, for example, a photodiode detector or a photomultiplier tube, or the like. Additionally or alternatively, optical sensor 408 may comprise an array sensor including an array of sensors or pixels. Array sensor 408 may comprise one or more of a complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor sensor (CMOS), a charge-coupled device (CCD) sensor, a plurality of photodiodes detectors, a plurality of photomultiplier tubes, or the like. Sensor lens 438 may be configured to from an image from the emissions from one or more of the plurality of biological samples 310. In certain embodiments, optical sensor 408 comprises two or more array sensors 408, for example, where two or more images are formed from the emissions from one or more of the plurality of biological samples 310. In such embodiments, emissions from one or more of the plurality of biological samples 310 may be split to provide two signals of the one or more of the plurality of biological samples 310. In certain embodiments, the optical sensor comprises at least two array sensors.

    [0040] Beamsplitter 420 is disposed along both excitation and emission optical paths 412, 417 and is configured to receive both first and second excitation beams 405a, 405b during operation. In the illustrated embodiment shown in FIG. 1, beamsplitter 420 is configured to transmit the excitation beams 405 and to reflect emissions from the biological samples 310. Alternatively, beamsplitter 420 may be configured to reflect the excitation beams and to transmit emissions from the biological samples 310. In certain embodiments, beamsplitter 420 comprises a broadband beamsplitter having the same, or approximately the same, reflectance for all or most of the excitation beams 405 provided by excitation source 402 and directed to the reaction regions 308 (e.g., excitation beams 405a, 405b in the illustrated embodiment). For example, beamsplitter 420 may be a broadband beamsplitter characterized by a reflectance that is constant, or about constant, over a wavelength band of at least 100 nanometers, over a wavelength band of at least 200 nanometers, or over the visible wavelength band of the electromagnetic spectrum, over the visible and near IR wavelength bands of the electromagnetic spectrum, or over a wavelength band from 450 nanometers to 680 nanometers. In certain embodiments, beamsplitter 420 is a neutral density filter, for example, a filter having a reflectance of, or about, 20%, 50%, or 80% over visible wavelength band of the electromagnetic spectrum. In certain embodiments, beamsplitter 420 is a dichroic beamsplitter that is transmissive or reflective over one or more selected wavelength ranges, for example, a multi-wavelength band beamsplitter that is transmissive and/or reflective over more than one band of wavelengths centers at or near a peak wavelength of excitation beams 405.

    [0041] In certain embodiments, beamsplitter 420 is a single beamsplitter configure to receive some or all of the plurality of excitation beams 405 (e.g., excitation beams 405a, 405b), either alone or in combination with a single beam dump 422. Each excitation beam may be referred to as an excitation channel, which may be used alone or in combination to excite different fluorescent dyes or probe molecule in one or more of the biological samples 310. By contrast many prior art systems and instruments, for example, in the field of qPCR, provide a plurality of excitation beams by using a separate beamsplitter and/or beam dump for each excitation channel and/or each emission channel of the system or instrument. In such prior art systems and instruments, chromatically selective dichroic filters are typically used in at least some of the excitation channels to increase the amount of radiation received at the samples. Disadvantages of systems and instruments using different beamsplitters and/or beam dumps for each channel include an increase in size, cost, complexity, and response time (e.g., dues to increased mass that must be moved or rotated when changing between excitation and/or emission channels). The inventors have discovered that it is possible to replace these plural beamsplitters and/or beam dumps with the single beamsplitter 420 and/or single beam dump 422, while still providing an acceptable or predetermined system or instrument performance, for example, by proper selection of spectral distribution of excitation source 402 and/or by configuring the systems or instruments to reduce the amount of stray or unwanted radiation received by optical sensor 408 (as discuss further herein). Thus, embodiments of the present invention may be used to provide instruments that have reduced size, cost, complexity, and response time as compared to prior art instruments.

    [0042] Referring to FIGS. 5 and 6, in certain embodiments, system 100 comprises an instrument housing 105 and sample holder drawer 110 comprising base 300 and configured during use to receive, hold, or contain sample holder 305 and to position sample holder 305 to provide optical coupling thereof with optical system 400. With drawer 110 closed (FIG. 6), housing 105 may be configured to contain or enclose sample processing system 300 and optical system 400. In certain embodiments, housing 105 may contain or enclose all or portions of electronic processor 200.

    [0043] Referring to FIGS. 7-9, in certain embodiments, optical system 400 may further comprise a lens 440 and/or a lens array 442, which may comprise a plurality of lenses corresponding to each of the reaction regions 308 of sample holder 305. Lens 440 may comprises a field lens, which may be configured to provide a telecentric optical system for a least one of sample holder 305, reaction regions 308, lens array 442, or optical sensor 408. As shown in illustrated embodiment in FIGS. 7 and 9, lens 440 may comprise a Fresnel lens.

    [0044] Referring again to FIGS. 7 and 9, in certain embodiments, base 300 comprises a sample block assembly 300 comprising a sample block 302, temperature controller 303, such as a Peltier device 303, and a heat sink 304. Sample block assembly 300 may be configured to provide a thermal controller or thermal cycling (e.g., provide a PCR assay or temperature profile), maintain a temperature of sample holder 305 or biological sample(s) 310, and/or otherwise maintain, control, adjust, or cycle heat flow or temperature of sample holder 305 or biological sample(s) 310.

    [0045] With additional reference to FIGS. 10-14, in certain embodiments, optical system 400 includes an imaging unit 445 comprising an optical sensor circuit board 448, sensor lens 438 (which may be a compound lens, as illustrated in FIG. 10), an inner lens mount 449, an outer lens mount 450, a threaded housing 452, and a focusing gear 455. Optical sensor circuit board 448, threaded housing 452, and sensor lens 438 together may form a cavity 458 that encloses or contains optical sensor 408 and may be configured to block any external light from impinging optical sensor 408 that does not enter through sensor lens 438. Outer lens mount 450 comprises an outer surface containing gear teeth 460 that may be moveably or slideably engaged with the teeth of focusing gear 455 via a resilient element (not shown), such as a spring. In certain embodiments, focusing gear 455 moves or slide along a slot 462 of a plate 465, as illustrated in FIG. 14. Inner lens mount 449 comprises a threaded portion 468 that engages or mates with a threaded portion of threaded housing 452.

    [0046] Inner lens mount 449 may be fixedly mounted to outer lens mount 450, while threaded housing 452 is fixedly mounted relative to optical sensor circuit board 448. Inner lens mount 449 is moveably or rotatably mounted to threaded housing 452. Thus, focusing gear 455 and outer lens mount 450 may be engaged such that a rotation of focusing gear 455 also rotates outer lens mount 450. This, in turn, causes inner lens mount 449 and sensor lens 438 to move along an optical axis of sensor lens 438 via the threads in inner lens mount 449 and threaded housing 452. In this manner, the focus of sensor lens 438 may be adjusted without directly engaging sensor lens 438 or its associated mounts 449, 450, which are buried within a very compact optical system 400. Engagement with focusing gear 455 may be either by hand or automated, for example using a motor (not shown), such as a stepper motor or DC motor.

    [0047] Referring to FIGS. 11 and 13-17, in certain embodiments, imaging unit 445 further comprises a locking device or mechanism 470. Locking device 470 comprises an edge or tooth 472 that may be slideably engaged between two teeth of focusing gear 455 (see FIGS. 15-17). As illustrated in FIGS. 15 and 16, locking device 470 may have a first position (FIG. 15) in which focusing gear 455 is free to rotate and adjust the focus of sensor lens 438 and a second position (FIG. 14) is which focusing gear 455 is locked in position and impeded or prevented from rotating. In this manner, the focus of sensor lens 438 may be locked while advantageously avoiding direct locking contact or engagement with threads 468 of inner lens mount 449, which could damage the threads and prevent subsequent refocusing of sensor lens 438 after being locked into position. Operation of locking device 470 may be either manually or in an automated manner. In certain embodiments, locking mechanism 470 further comprises a resilient element such as a spring (not shown), wherein rotation of focusing gear 455 may be accomplished by overcoming a threshold force produced by the resilient element.

    [0048] Referring to FIG. 18, optical system 400 may also include an optics housing 477. In certain embodiments, optical system 400 includes a radiation shield 475 comprising a sensor aperture 478 disposed along emission optical path 417 and at least one blocking structure 480 disposed to cooperate with sensor aperture 478 such that the only radiation from excitation beams 405, and reflected off an illuminated surface or area 482, to pass through sensor aperture 478 is radiation that has also reflected off at least one other surface of, or within, the optics housing 477. In other words, radiation shield 475 is configured such that radiation from excitation beams 405 reflected illuminated area 482 are blocked from directly passing through aperture 478 and, therefore, from passing into sensor lens 438 and onto optical detector 408. In certain embodiments, illuminated area 482 comprises the area defined by all the apertures 483 of heated cover 102 corresponding to the plurality of reaction regions 308.

    [0049] In the illustrated embodiment of FIG. 18, blocking structure 480 comprises a shelf 480. Dashed lines or rays 484a and 484b may be used to illustrate the effectiveness of blocking structure 480 in preventing light directly reflected from illuminated area 482 from passing through sensor aperture 478 and onto senor lens 438 and/or optical sensor 408. Ray 484a originates from an edge of illuminated area 482 an just passes shelf 480, but does not pass through sensor aperture 478. Ray 484b is another ray originating from the same edge of illuminated area 482 that is blocked by shelf 480. As can be seen, this ray would have entered through sensor aperture 478 were it not for the presences of shelf 480.

    [0050] With continued reference to FIG. 18, in certain embodiments, optical system 400 may further comprise an energy or power detection unit comprising a power or energy sensors 490 optically coupled to one end of a light pipe 492. An opposite end 493 of light pipe 492 is configured to be illuminated by excitation beams 405. Light pipe end 493 may be illuminated either directly by radiation contained in excitation beams 405 or indirectly, for example, by radiation scattered by a diffuse surface. In certain embodiments, sensor 490 is located outside of the excitation optical path 412 from excitation source 402. Additionally or alternatively, sensor 490 is located outside optics housing 477 and/or is located at a remote location outside instrument housing 105. In the illustrated embodiment shown in FIG. 18, light pipe end 493 is disposed near or adjacent mirror 432 and may be oriented so that the face of the light pipe is perpendicular, or nearly perpendicular, to the surface of mirror 432 that reflects excitation beams 405. The inventors have discovered that the low amount of energy or power intercepted by light pipe 492 when oriented in this way is sufficient for the purpose of monitoring the energy or power of excitation beams 405. Advantageously, by locating sensor 490 outside the optical path of excitation beams a more compact optical system 400 may be provided.

    [0051] In certain embodiments, light pipe 492 comprises a single fiber or a fiber bundle. Additionally or alternatively, light 492 may comprise a rod made of a transparent or transmissive material such as glass, Plexiglas, polymer based material such as acrylic, or the like.

    [0052] Referring to FIGS. 19 and 20, in certain embodiments instrument 100 comprises a position source 500 configured to emit radiation 502 and a corresponding position sensor 505 configured to receive radiation 502 from position source 500. Position source 500 and position sensor 505 may be configured to produce a position signal indicative of a position of an optical element 435 disposed along an optical paths. In certain embodiments, instrument 100 may further comprise a radiation shield 510 configured to block at least some radiation 502 from position source 505.

    [0053] The above presents a description of the best mode contemplated of carrying out the present invention, and of the manner and process of making and using it, in such full, clear, concise, and exact terms as to enable any person skilled in the art to which it pertains to make and use this invention. This invention is, however, susceptible to modifications and alternate constructions from that discussed above which are fully equivalent. Consequently, it is not the intention to limit this invention to the particular embodiments disclosed. On the contrary, the intention is to cover modifications and alternate constructions coming within the scope of the invention as generally expressed by the following claims, which particularly point out and distinctly claim the subject matter of the invention.

    [0054] Exemplary systems for methods related to the various embodiments described in this document include those described in following applications:


    Claims

    1. An instrument for biological analysis, comprising:

    an excitation source (402);

    an optical sensor (408) configured to receive emissions from biological samples (310) in response to the excitation source;

    an optical sensor circuit board (448);

    an excitation optical system (410) disposed along an excitation optical path (412);

    an emission optical system (415) disposed along an emission optical path (417)

    an imaging unit comprising:

    a first surface, an opposing second surface and a threaded housing (452) together forming a cavity that contains the optical sensor;

    a sensor lens (438);

    a lens case (449, 450) at least partially enclosing the sensor lens and having a threaded portion that engages with a threaded portion of the threaded housing; and

    a focusing mechanism comprising a focusing gear (455) arranged to engage gear teeth provided to an outer surface of the lens case, rotation of the focusing gear rotating the lens case to cause the sensor lens to move along an optical axis of the sensor lens by means of the threads in the lens case and the threaded housing;

    wherein the first surface comprises a surface of the sensor lens;

    wherein the second surface comprises the optical sensor circuit board (448); and

    wherein the focusing mechanism is configured to be accessible from outside an optical enclosure enclosing the optical paths for adjusting a focus of the sensor lens.


     
    2. An instrument according to Claim 1, further comprising a beamsplitter (420) disposed along both the excitation optical path and along the emission optical path.
     
    3. The instrument according to claims 1 or 2, wherein the excitation source is configured to provide a plurality of excitation beams (405a, 405b) to illuminate the biological samples, and wherein at least some of the emissions comprise a fluorescent emission from at least some of the biological samples in response to at least one of plurality of the excitation beams.
     
    4. The instrument according to any preceding claim, wherein base comprises a thermal controller, and, optionally, wherein a thermal controller configured to control a temperature of at least one of the base, the sample holder, or the separated biological samples, or optionally, wherein the thermal controller comprises a thermal cycler configured to perform a PCR assay.
     
    5. The instrument according to claims 1, 2, 3 or 4, wherein the excitation optical system comprising a sample lens configured to direct the excitation beams toward the base, wherein the sample lens comprises a field lens configured to extend over the plurality of spatially separated regions, and wherein the sample lens is configured to provide a telecentric optical system for a least one of the sample holder, the spatially separated reaction regions, or the optical sensor.
     
    6. The instrument according to claim 2:
    wherein the beamsplitter is characterized by a reflectance that is constant over a wavelength band from 450 nanometers to 680 nanometers.
     
    7. The instrument according to claim 2, wherein the first excitation beam and the second excitation beam are temporally separated and/or spatially separated.
     
    8. The instrument according to claim 3, wherein the plurality of excitation beams comprise a first excitation beam that comprises a first wavelength range over which an intensity, power, or energy of the first excitation beam is above a first predetermined value, and a second excitation beam that comprises a second wavelength range over which an intensity, power, or energy of the second excitation beam is above a second predetermined value, the first wavelength is at least one of (1) a central wavelength of the first wavelength range or (2) a wavelength of maximum electromagnetic intensity, power, or energy over the first wavelength range, and the second wavelength is at least one of (1) a central wavelength of the second wavelength range or (2) a wavelength of maximum electromagnetic intensity, power, or energy over the second wavelength range.
     
    9. The instrument according to claim 1, wherein the excitation source comprises a plurality of individual excitation sources.
     
    10. The instrument according to claim 9, wherein the plurality of individual excitation sources form a two dimensional array of individual excitation sources.
     
    11. The instrument according to claim 1, wherein the optical sensor comprises an array sensor.
     
    12. The instrument according to claim 11, wherein the array sensor comprises at least one of a complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor sensor or a charge-coupled device sensor.
     
    13. The instrument according to claim 1, wherein the optical sensor comprises at least two array sensors.
     
    14. The instrument according to claim 1, further comprising a heated cover disposed adjacent the base and including a plurality of apertures configured to correspond to the plurality of reaction regions.
     


    Ansprüche

    1. Instrument zur biologischen Analyse, umfassend:

    eine Anregungsquelle (402);

    einen optischen Sensor (408), der so konfiguriert ist, dass er als Reaktion auf die Anregungsquelle Emissionen von biologischen Proben (310) empfängt;

    eine Leiterplatte für optische Sensoren (448);

    ein optisches Anregungssystem (410), das entlang eines optischen Anregungsweges (412) angeordnet ist;

    ein optisches Emissionssystem (415), das entlang eines optischen Emissionspfades (417) angeordnet ist, wobei eine Abbildungseinheit Folgendes umfasst:

    eine erste Oberfläche, eine gegenüberliegende zweite Oberfläche und ein Gewindegehäuse (452), die zusammen einen Hohlraum bilden, der den optischen Sensor enthält;

    eine Sensorlinse (438);

    ein Linsengehäuse (449, 450), das die Sensorlinse zumindest teilweise umschließt und einen Gewindeabschnitt aufweist, der in einen Gewindeabschnitt des Gewindegehäuses eingreift; und

    einen Fokussiermechanismus, der ein Fokussierzahnrad (455) umfasst, das so angeordnet ist, dass es in eine an einer Außenfläche des Linsengehäuses vorgesehene Verzahnung eingreift, wobei durch Drehen des Fokussierzahnrads das Linsengehäuse gedreht wird, um zu bewirken, dass sich die Sensorlinse mittels der Gewinde in dem Linsengehäuse und dem Gewindegehäuse entlang einer optischen Achse der Sensorlinse bewegt;

    wobei die erste Oberfläche eine Oberfläche der Sensorlinse umfasst;

    wobei die zweite Oberfläche die Leiterplatte (448) für optische Sensoren umfasst; und

    wobei der Fokussiermechanismus so konfiguriert ist, dass er von außerhalb eines optischen Gehäuses zugänglich ist, das die optischen Wege zum Einstellen eines Fokus der Sensorlinse umschließt.


     
    2. Instrument nach Anspruch 1, ferner umfassend einen Strahlteiler (420), der sowohl entlang des optischen Anregungsweges als auch entlang des optischen Emissionsweges angeordnet ist.
     
    3. Instrument nach Anspruch 1 oder 2, wobei die Anregungsquelle so konfiguriert ist, dass sie mehrere Anregungsstrahlen (405a, 405b) zum Beleuchten der biologischen Proben bereitstellt, und wobei mindestens einige der Emissionen eine Fluoreszenzemission von mindestens einigen der biologischen Proben als Reaktion auf mindestens einen von mehreren der Anregungsstrahlen umfassen.
     
    4. Instrument nach einem der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, wobei die Basis eine Thermo-Steuerung und, optional, wobei eine Thermo-Steuerung konfiguriert ist, um eine Temperatur von mindestens einer der Basis, des Probenhalters oder der getrennten biologischen Proben zu steuern, oder optional, wobei die thermische Steuerung einen Thermocycler umfasst, der konfiguriert ist, um einen PCR-Assay durchzuführen.
     
    5. Instrument nach den Ansprüchen 1, 2, 3 oder 4, wobei das optische Anregungssystem eine Probenlinse umfasst, die so konfiguriert ist, dass sie die Anregungsstrahlen auf die Basis richtet, wobei die Probenlinse eine Feldlinse umfasst, die so konfiguriert ist, dass sie sich über die mehreren räumlich getrennten Bereiche erstreckt, und wobei die Probenlinse so konfiguriert ist, dass sie ein telezentrisches optisches System für mindestens eines von dem Probenhalter, den räumlich getrennten Reaktionsbereichen oder dem optischen Sensor bereitstellt.
     
    6. Instrument nach Anspruch 2:
    wobei der Strahlteiler durch ein Reflexionsvermögen gekennzeichnet ist, das über ein Wellenlängenband von 450 Nanometer bis 680 Nanometer konstant ist.
     
    7. Instrument nach Anspruch 2, wobei der erste Anregungsstrahl und der zweite Anregungsstrahl zeitlich und/oder räumlich getrennt sind.
     
    8. Instrument nach Anspruch 3, wobei die mehreren Anregungsstrahlen einen ersten Anregungsstrahl, der einen ersten Wellenlängenbereich umfasst, über den eine Intensität, Leistung oder Energie des ersten Anregungsstrahls über einem ersten vorbestimmten Wert liegt, und einen zweiten Anregungsstrahl umfassen, der einen zweiten Wellenlängenbereich umfasst, über den eine Intensität, Leistung oder Energie des zweiten Anregungsstrahls über einem zweiten vorbestimmten Wert liegt, wobei die erste Wellenlänge mindestens eine von (1) einer Zentralwellenlänge des ersten Wellenlängenbereichs oder (2) einer Wellenlänge mit maximaler elektromagnetischer Intensität, Leistung oder Energie über den ersten Wellenlängenbereich ist, und wobei die zweite Wellenlänge mindestens eine von (1) einer Zentralwellenlänge des zweiten Wellenlängenbereichs oder (2) einer Wellenlänge mit maximaler elektromagnetischer Intensität, Leistung oder Energie über den zweiten Wellenlängenbereich ist.
     
    9. Instrument nach Anspruch 1, wobei die Anregungsquelle mehrere einzelne Anregungsquellen umfasst.
     
    10. Instrument nach Anspruch 9, wobei die mehreren einzelnen Anregungsquellen ein zweidimensionales Array von einzelnen Anregungsquellen bilden.
     
    11. Instrument nach Anspruch 1, wobei der optische Sensor einen Array-Sensor umfasst.
     
    12. Instrument nach Anspruch 11, wobei der Array-Sensor mindestens einen komplementären Metalloxid-Halbleitersensor oder einen Sensor für eine ladungsgekoppelte Vorrichtung umfasst.
     
    13. Instrument nach Anspruch 1, wobei der optische Sensor mindestens zwei Array-Sensoren umfasst.
     
    14. Instrument nach Anspruch 1, ferner umfassend eine beheizte Abdeckung, die neben der Basis angeordnet ist und mehrere Öffnungen aufweist, die so konfiguriert sind, dass sie den mehreren Reaktionsbereichen entsprechen.
     


    Revendications

    1. Instrument d'analyse biologique, comprenant :

    une source d'excitation (402) ;

    un capteur optique (408) configuré pour recevoir des émissions provenant d'échantillons biologiques (310) en réponse à la source d'excitation ;

    une carte de circuit imprimé de capteur optique (448) ;

    un système optique d'excitation (410) disposé le long d'un chemin optique d'excitation (412) ;

    un système optique d'émission (415) disposé le long d'un chemin optique d'émission (417), une unité d'imagerie comprenant :
    une première surface, une seconde surface opposée et un boîtier fileté (452) formant ensemble une cavité qui contient le capteur optique ;

    une lentille de capteur (438) ;

    un boîtier de lentille (449, 450) renfermant au moins partiellement la lentille du capteur et étant doté d'une partie filetée qui entre en prise avec une partie filetée du boîtier fileté ; et

    un mécanisme de mise au point comprenant un engrenage de mise au point (455) agencé pour entrer en prise avec des dents d'engrenage fournies à une surface extérieure du boîtier de lentille, la rotation de l'engrenage de mise au point faisant tourner le boîtier de lentille pour amener la lentille du capteur à se déplacer le long d'un axe optique de la lentille du capteur au moyen des fils dans le boîtier de lentille et le boîtier fileté ;

    dans lequel la première surface comprend une surface de la lentille du capteur ;

    dans lequel la seconde surface comprend la carte de circuit imprimé de capteur optique (448) ; et

    dans lequel le mécanisme de mise au point est conçu pour être accessible de l'extérieur d'une enceinte optique renfermant les chemins optiques afin de régler une mise au point de la lentille du capteur.


     
    2. Instrument selon la revendication 1, comprenant en outre un séparateur de faisceau (420) disposé à la fois le long du chemin optique d'excitation et le long du chemin optique d'émission.
     
    3. Instrument selon les revendications 1 ou 2, dans lequel la source d'excitation est conçue pour fournir une pluralité de faisceaux d'excitation (405a, 405b) pour éclairer les échantillons biologiques, et dans lequel au moins certaines des émissions comprennent une émission fluorescente provenant d'au moins certains des échantillons biologiques en réponse à au moins l'un de la pluralité des faisceaux d'excitation.
     
    4. Instrument selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, dans lequel la base comprend un contrôleur thermique, et, facultativement, dans lequel un contrôleur thermique est configuré pour contrôler une température d'au moins l'un de la base, du porte-échantillon ou des échantillons biologiques séparés, ou facultativement, dans lequel le contrôleur thermique comprend un cycleur thermique configuré pour effectuer un test par PCR.
     
    5. Instrument selon les revendications 1, 2, 3 ou 4, dans lequel le système optique d'excitation comprend une lentille d'échantillon conçue pour diriger les faisceaux d'excitation vers la base, dans lequel la lentille d'échantillon comprend une lentille de champ conçue pour s'étendre sur la pluralité des régions spatialement séparées, et dans lequel la lentille d'échantillon est conçue pour fournir un système optique télécentrique pour au moins l'un du porte-échantillon, des régions de réaction spatialement séparées ou du capteur optique.
     
    6. Instrument selon la revendication 2 :
    dans lequel le séparateur de faisceau est caractérisé par une réflectance constante sur une bande de longueur d'onde de 450 nanomètres à 680 nanomètres.
     
    7. Instrument selon la revendication 2, dans lequel le premier faisceau d'excitation et le second faisceau d'excitation sont séparés temporellement et/ou spatialement.
     
    8. Instrument selon la revendication 3, dans lequel la pluralité de faisceaux d'excitation comprend un premier faisceau d'excitation qui comprend une première plage de longueur d'onde sur laquelle une intensité, une puissance ou une énergie du premier faisceau d'excitation est supérieure à une première valeur prédéterminée, et un second faisceau d'excitation qui comprend une seconde plage de longueur d'onde sur laquelle une intensité, une puissance ou une énergie du second faisceau d'excitation est supérieure à une seconde valeur prédéterminée, la première longueur d'onde est au moins l'une (1) d'une longueur d'onde centrale de la première plage de longueur d'onde ou (2) d'une longueur d'onde d'intensité, de puissance ou d'énergie électromagnétique maximale sur la première plage de longueur d'onde, et la seconde longueur d'onde est au moins l'une (1) d'une longueur d'onde centrale de la seconde plage de longueur d'onde ou (2) d'une longueur d'onde d'intensité, de puissance ou d'énergie électromagnétique maximale sur la seconde plage de longueur d'onde.
     
    9. Instrument selon la revendication 1, dans lequel la source d'excitation comprend une pluralité de sources d'excitation individuelles.
     
    10. Instrument selon la revendication 9, dans lequel la pluralité de sources d'excitation individuelles forme un réseau bidimensionnel de sources d'excitation individuelles.
     
    11. Instrument selon la revendication 1, dans lequel le capteur optique comprend un capteur réseau.
     
    12. Instrument selon la revendication 11, dans lequel le capteur réseau comprend au moins un parmi un capteur complémentaire métal-oxyde-semi-conducteur ou un capteur de dispositif à transfert de charges.
     
    13. Instrument selon la revendication 1, dans lequel le capteur optique comprend au moins deux capteurs réseaux.
     
    14. Instrument selon la revendication 1, comprenant en outre un couvercle chauffant disposé adjacent à la base et comportant une pluralité d'ouvertures conçues pour correspondre à la pluralité de régions de réaction.
     




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    Cited references

    REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



    This list of references cited by the applicant is for the reader's convenience only. It does not form part of the European patent document. Even though great care has been taken in compiling the references, errors or omissions cannot be excluded and the EPO disclaims all liability in this regard.

    Patent documents cited in the description