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1. (WO1991009300) IMPROVEMENTS IN AND RELATING TO LIGHT TRANSFER SYSTEMS AND IMPROVED CELL INVESTIGATION TECHNIQUES ARISING THEREFROM
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CLAIMS

1. In a light transmission system in which photon
emission from material on a first surface is to be
transferred to an optical detector, a fibre optic face plate is located between the said first surface and the said detector with an air gap between at least the face plate and the detector and the position of the face plate therebetween is selected so as to form a focussed image of discrete photon emitting sites on the first surface, in the plane of said detector.

2. A system as claimed in claim 1, wherein the detector is an image intensifier or an intensified CCD camera or a CCD detector which may be cryogenically cooled.

3. A system as claimed in claim 1 , in which the first surface is a Petri dish or a microscope slide of plastics or glass.

4. A system as claimed in claim 1 , in which there is one air gap between the said first surface and the fibre optic face plate and another air gap between the face plate and the viewing window of the detector.

5. A system as claimed in claim 1, wherein the face plate is positioned so that it is midway in an optical sense between the material on the first surface and the detector having due regard to the refractive index of each of the materials making up the light path.

6. A system as claimed in claim 1, wherein the focussing effect of the intermediate fibre optic plate is optimised if the distances and materials involved satisfy the relationship:
a/n1=b/n2

where a is the thickness of the sample holder and b is the thickness of the gap between the intermediate plate and the image intensifier and n1 and n„ are the refractive indices of the two materials.

7. A system as claimed in claim 1, wherein an optical filter is inserted between the sample holder and the detector.

8. In a system as claimed in claim 1, a sample holder (possessing the said first surface) face plate and
detector are spaced and located so as to define at least one gap between the opposed faces of either the sample holder and the face plate or the latter and the detector and an optical filter is removably located in the gap as required, and the relative positions of the holder, face plate and detector are selected so that the optical path between the holder and the face plate is substantially the same as that between the face plate and the detector having regard to the refractive indices of the materials from which the sample holder, filter and face plate are formed.

9. A system as claimed in claim 8, wherein the filter is a wavelength selective filter or a polarizing filter or a neutral density filter.

10. A system as claimed in claim 9, wherein a first filter is inserted between one part of a test and another, and a neutral density filter of material having the same
refractive index as the filter to be used in the test is inserted in the gap when the first filter is not required, but is removed and replaced by the said first filter when the latter is required to be in place.

11. A system as claimed in claim 1, wherein there is provided an air gap into which an optical filter can be inserted which normally includes a neutral density filter of material having the same refractive index as the material of the optical filter, and means is provided whereby the neutral density filter is substituted by the optical filter and vice versa as required.

12. A method of detecting light emissions of a particular wavelength and/or polarisation from small discrete regions on a support surface by means of a broad spectrum response detector coupled thereto by a face plate positioned between the support surface and the viewing window of the detector, comprising the steps of; inserting a neutral density filter during setting up (so that light of all wavelengths and/or polarisations can pass from material on the support surface to the detector to allow setting up to occur), removing the neutral density filter, and replacing same with a wavelength selective and/or polarising filter and detecting whether any light of the selected wavelength and/or polarisation is being received by the detector, by inspecting the signal output of the detector.

13. A method of adjusting the dynamic range of a system as claimed in claim 1, comprising the steps of inserting neutral density filters of differing attentuation in the gap to enable the system to handle materials which emit considerably different quantities of light without damaging or overloading the detector.

14. Apparatus for performing the method of claim 12 or 13 comprising a rotating or sliding carrier containing a plurality of different filters, the carrier being
positioned between the support containing the photon emitting material and the intermediate face plate or between the face plate and the detector, and the carrier being movable to present different filters in the light path.

15. A system as claimed in claim 1, wherein a shutter is positioned between the light emitting material and the detector by locating a shutter mechanism such as and iris diaphragm or a roller blind shutter in the gap between the material support and the intermediate fibre optic face plate or between the latter and the detector.

16. A system as claimed in claim 15, wherein the shutter is combined with one or more filters.

17. A system as claimed in claim 1, further comprising an LCD matrix under electrical control as for example from a computer, positioned in the gap to enable selective area masking to be performed.

18. Methods of investigation in which a medium under investigation is carried on a sample support, light from which is transferred to a detector through a fibre optic face plate positioned therebetween with at least one gap between the face plate and the sample support.

19. Apparatus for performing methods of investigation as claimed in claim 18.

20. A method of detecting photon emissions when Adnosine TriPhosphate (ATP) is released from cells which have been caused to lyse, wherein light from the lysing cells is transmitted to a detector through a fibre optic face plate located between the cells and the detector.

21. A method of detecting the presence of particular cells in a sample comprising the steps of:

a) placing the sample on a sample holder together with luciferase and luciferin,

b) positioning the latter in apparatus as claimed in claim 1 so that any photon emission from discrete regions of the sample will be transmitted via the face plate to a detector,

c) noting the output signal level of the detector, and

d) adding a lysing agent to the sample and noting any sudden increase in light emission from any particular region of the sample, as will be evidenced by a sudden increase in the output signal for such a region.

22. A method of measuring the toxicity of a material to cells of other material by adding the toxic material in known concentrations to a sample containing one or more cells of known material, together with luciferase and luciferin on a surface and causing any light from any local photon emission activity due to individual cells lysing as they are attacked by the toxic material to be transmitted to a detector through a fibre optic face plat which is located between the surface containing the reacting materials and the detector.

23. A method of investigating the infection of a monolaye of cells on a Petri dish with a genetically engineered virus which transmits lux (and other) genes into the genetic code of the cells werein the culture is incubated for a period of time and as the cells become infected the luciferase enzyme is produced by single infected cells more commonly referred to as gene expression and wherein after a period of time luciferin and ATP are added to cause light to be emitted from any sites of infection, and causing any light so emitted to be transmitted to a detector through a fibre optic face plate between the petri dish and the detector.

24. A system as claimed in claim 1, wherein the detector comprises a CCD camera including a fibre optic plate entry window which latter comprises the faceplate.

25. A system as claimed in claim 1, wherein the fibre optic face plate comprises a plate of glass formed from a uniform circular cross section bundle of optical fibres the cross section diameter of which is 50mm and the length of the fibres making up the bundle is 3mm and the two faces of the plate are parallel and are spaced apart by the length of the fibres and the fibres making up the plate are approximately 6 microns in diameter.

26. Apparatus as claimed in claim 1, substantially as herein described with reference to and as illustrated in Figures 2 to 7 of the accompanying drawings.