- I. TECHNICAL FIELD
This application is a continuation application of application Ser. No. 12/113,684, filed on May 1, 2008, which is a continuation application of application Ser. No. 10/275,770, filed on Feb. 7, 2003 issued as U.S. Pat. No. 7,371,517 on May 13, 2008, which is the National Stage of International Application No. PCT/US01/15150, filed on May 9, 2001, which claims the benefit under 35 U.S.C. §119(e) of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/267,571, filed Feb. 10, 2001, U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/239,752, filed Oct. 12, 2000, and U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/203,089, filed May 9, 2000, each hereby incorporated by reference herein.
- II. BACKGROUND
Isolated high purity X-chromosome bearing or Y-chromosome bearing populations of spermatozoa and technologies to isolate spermatozoa, particles, or events based upon differentiation characteristics such as mass, volume, DNA content, or the like.
Isolated high purity X-chromosome bearing or Y-chromosome bearing populations of spermatozoa can be utilized to accomplish in vitro or in vivo artificial insemination of or fertilization of ova or oocytes of numerous mammals such as bovids, equids, ovids, goats, swine, dogs, cats, camels, elephants, oxen, buffalo, or the like. See also, U.S. Pat. No. 5,135,759, hereby incorporated by reference.
However, conventional technologies for separating spermatozoa into X-chromosome bearing and Y-chromosome bearing populations can result in spermatozoa populations having low purity. Regardless of the separation method spermatozoa have not been routinely separated into X-chromosome bearing and to Y-chromosome bearing sperm samples having high purity, such as 90%, 95%, or greater than 95%.
A number of techniques, directly or indirectly based on differences in size, mass, or density have been disclosed with respect to separating X-chromosome bearing from Y-chromosome bearing spermatozoa As disclosed by U.S. Pat. No. 4,474,875, a buoyant force is applied to all sperm cells simultaneously and X-chromosome bearing and Y-chromosome bearing spermatozoa may then be isolated at different locations in the separation medium. U.S. Pat. No. 5,514,537 discloses a technique whereby spermatozoa traverse a column packed with two sizes of beads. The larger X-chromosome bearing spermatozoa become isolated in the layer containing the larger beads, while the smaller Y-chromosome bearing spermatozoa become isolated in the layer containing the smaller beads. U.S. Pat. No. 4,605,558 discloses that spermatozoa may be made differentially responsive to a density gradient and U.S. Pat. No. 4,009,260 exploits the differences in migration-rate, or swimming-speed, between the Y-bearing spermatozoa, and the X-chromosome bearing spermatozoa, through a column of retarding medium.
A problem common to each of the above-mentioned technologies may be that they each act on all the spermatozoa in a ‘bulk-manner’, meaning that all the spermatozoa undergo the same treatment at the same time, and the Y-chromosome bearing sperm cells come out faster, earlier, or at a different position than X-chromosome bearing sperm cells. As such, individual sperm cells may not be assessed and there may be no actual ‘measurement’ of volume, mass, density, or other sperm cell characteristics. One-by-one assessment of sperm cells can provide advantages in that the actual separation process can be monitored, and objective quantitative data can be generated even during the separation process, and separation parameters altered as desired. Furthermore, these technologies may not be coupled with flow cell sorting devices.
Flow cytometer techniques for the separation of spermatozoa have also been disclosed. Using these techniques spermatozoa may be stained with a fluorochrome and made to flow in a narrow stream or band passing by an excitation or irradiation source such as a laser beam. As stained particles or cells pass through the excitation or irradiation source, the fluorochrome emits fluorescent light. The fluorescent light may be collected by an optical lens assembly, focused on a detector, such as a photomultiplier tube which generates and multiplies an electronic signal, which may then be analyzed by an analyzer. The data can then be displayed as multiple or single parameter chromatograms or histograms. The number of cells and fluorescence per cell may be used as coordinates. See U.S. Pat. No. 5,135,759, hereby incorporated by reference. However, with respect to this type of technology a variety of problems remain unresolved and isolating highly purified populations of X-chromosome bearing or Y-chromosome bearing sperm cells be difficult.
A significant problem with conventional flow cytometer technologies can be the orientation of objects, particles, or cells in the sheath fluid stream. This can be particularly problematic when the object or cell is irregular in shape with respect to more than one axis, such spermatozoa for example. One aspect of this problem may be establishing the initial orientation of the object within the sheath fluid stream. A second aspect of this problem may be maintaining the orientation of the object with respect to the detector (photomultiplier tube or otherwise) during the period that emitted light from the object is measured.
Another significant problem with conventional flow cytometer technologies can be the failure to encapsulate the objects or cells in a droplet of liquid. Especially, when droplets are formed around irregularly shaped objects the droplet may not be of sufficient size to completely surround all the features of the objects or cells. For example, during flow cytometry operation as above-described droplets can be formed at very high speed, even as many as 10,000 to 90,000 droplets per second and in some applications as many as 80,000 droplets per second. When spermatozoa are encapsulated into droplets, especially at these high rates of speed, a portion of the tail or neck may not be encapsulated in the droplet. That portion of the tail or neck not encapsulated in the droplet may then be responsive with the nozzle or may be responsive to the environment surrounding the droplet in a manner that interferes with subsequent droplet formation or with proper deflection of the droplet. As a result some of the spermatozoa may not be analyzed at all reducing the efficiency of the procedure, or may not be resolved sufficiently to be assigned to a population, or may be deflected in errant trajectories, or a combination of all may occur.
Another significant problem with conventional flow cytometer technologies, as well as other technologies, can be a coincidence of measurable events. One aspect of this problem can be that the incident light flux from a first event continues to produce signals after the incident light flux from a second event starts to generate a signal. As such, the two events remain at least partially unresolved from one another. Another aspect of this problem can be that two or more events are simultaneously initiated and the incident light flux comprises the contribution of all the events. As such, the multiplicity of events may not be resolved at all and the objects corresponding to the multiplicity of events can be incorrectly assigned to a population or not assigned to a population at all, or both. Specifically, with respect to flow cytometry, individual particles, objects, cells, or spermatozoa in suspension flow through a beam of light with which they interact providing a measurable response, such as fluorescent emission. In conventional flow cytometry, Hoechst stained spermatozoa traverse a laser beam resulting in a fluorescent light emission. The fluorescent light emission from the excited fluorochrome bound to the DNA can be bright enough to produce an electron flow in conventional photomultiplier tubes for a period of time after the actual emission event has ended. Moreover, in a conventional flow cytometer, the laser beam can produce a pattern having a height of 30 μm while the width can be approximately 80 μm. The nucleus of a bovine spermatozoa which contains fluorochrome bound DNA can be about 9 μm in length making the height of the laser beam some three (3) times greater than the nucleus. This difference can allow for the laser excitation of the bound fluorochrome in more than one spermatozoa within the laser beam pattern at one time. Each of these conventional flow cytometry problems decreases the ability to resolve individual events from one another.
Another significant problem with conventional flow cytometer technologies, and other technologies, can be that irregularly shaped objects, such as spermatozoa, generate differing signals (shape, duration, or amount) depending on their orientation within the excitation/detection path. As such, individuals within a homogenous population can generate a broad spectrum of emission characteristics that may overlap with the emission characteristics of individuals from another homogenous population obviating or reducing the ability to resolve the individuals of the two populations.
Another significant problem with conventional flow cytometer technologies, and other technologies, can be that objects are not uniformly exposed to the excitation source. Conventional beam shaping optics may not provide uniform exposure to laser light when the objects are close to the periphery of the beam.
Another significant problem with conventional flow cytometer technologies can be that objects, such as spermatozoa, can be exposed to the excitation source for unnecessarily long periods of time. Irradiation of cells, such as spermatozoa, with laser light may result in damage to the cells or to the DNA contained within them.
Another significant problem with conventional flow cytometer technologies can be that there may be a disruption of the laminar flow within the nozzle by the injection tube. Disruption of the laminar flow can change the orientation of irregularly shaped objects within the flow and lower the speed of sorting and the purity of the sorted populations of X-chromosome bearing sperm or Y-chromosome bearing spermatozoa.
There may be additional problems with technologies that utilize stain bound to the nuclear DNA of sperm cells. First, because the DNA in the nucleus is highly condensed and flat in shape, stoichiometric staining of the DNA may be difficult or impossible. Second, stained nuclei may have a high index of refraction. Third, stain bound to the DNA to form a DNA-stain complex may reduce fertilization rates or the viability of the subsequent embryos. Fourth, the DNA-stain complex is typically irradiated with ultra-violet light to cause the stain to fluoresce. This irradiation may affect the viability of the spermatozoa. Due to these various problems, it may be preferable to use a method that requires less or no stain, or less or no ultra-violet radiation, or less or none of both.
- III. DISCLOSURE OF THE INVENTION
With respect to generating high purity samples of X-chromosome bearing sperm cell or Y-chromosome bearing sperm cell populations (whether live, fixed, viable, non-viable, intact, tailless, or as nuclei), or generally, with respect to detecting small differences in photo-generated signal between serial events having relatively high incident light flux, or with respect to orienting irregularly shaped objects in a fluid stream, or eliminating coincident events within an optical path, or removing undesirably oriented objects from analysis, the instant invention addresses every one of the above-mentioned problems in a practical fashion.
A broad object of the invention can be to provide isolated high purity X-chromosome bearing and Y-chromosome bearing populations of spermatozoa. Isolated non-naturally occurring populations of spermatozoa that have high purity have numerous applications including sex selection of offspring from mammals, various in vitro protocols for the fertilization of ova, various in vivo protocols such as artificial insemination, business methods involving the production of prize animals or meat animals, or preservation of rare or endangered animals, to recite but a few of the applications for high purity populations of spermatozoa.
Another broad object of the invention involves both devices and methods for the production of high purity X-chromosome bearing and Y-chromosome bearing sperm samples.
Particular embodiments of the invention are described, which may be used in numerous applications as above-mentioned, that can be used to achieve the specific objects of differentiating between bright photoemissive events having small measurable differences in total light flux, orienting irregularly shaped objects in a fluid stream, the minimization of coincident events within an optical path, the removal of signal contributed by undesired unoriented objects within an optical path (including the removal of the object itself), and the encapsulation of irregularly shaped objects within a droplet. As such, the specific objects of the invention can be quite varied.
Another broad object of the invention can be to provide X-chromosome bearing or Y-chromosome bearing spermatozoa samples (live, fixed, viable, non-viable, intact, tailless, or sperm nuclei) having a graded level of high purity in the range of 80%, 85%, 90%, 95%, or even greater than 95%.
Another significant object of particular embodiments of the invention can be to sort spermatozoa into X-chromosome bearing and Y-chromosome bearing populations having high purity even at high separation rates. The high speed separation can produce live sperm of each sex at rates of about 500, 1000, 2000, 3000, 4000, 5000, 6000, 7000, 8,000, 9,000 or even 10,000 per second, or higher.
Another significant object of particular embodiments of the invention can be to substantially eliminate or remove spermatozoa (live, fixed, viable, non-viable, intact, tailless, or sperm nuclei) having undesired orientation in the excitation/detection portion of the flow path of a flow cytometer.
Another significant object of particular embodiments of the invention can be to provide artificial insemination samples of X-chromosome bearing or Y-chromosome bearing spermatozoa having a high level of purity.
Another significant object of particular embodiments of the invention can be to provide in vitro insemination samples of X-chromosome bearing or Y-chromosome bearing spermatozoa having a high level of purity.
Another significant object of a particular embodiment of the invention can be to preselect the sex of offspring of females inseminated with high purity artificial insemination samples, the sex of offspring of ova fertilized with high purity artificial insemination samples, with selection success rates of 80%, 85%, 90%, 95%, or greater than 95%.
Another significant object of particular embodiments of the invention can be to differentiate between photoemissive events having small differences in total emitted light flux.
Another significant object of particular embodiments of the invention can be to substantially eliminate or reduce the amount of background noise generated by a photomultiplier tube, even in the absence of light, during the period after exposure to high incident light flux.
Another significant object of particular embodiments of the invention can be to substantially eliminate saturation of the photocathode of photomultiplier tube(s) used in conjunction with flow cytometry, or otherwise.
Another significant object of particular embodiments of the invention can be to reduce the number electrons migrating from the photocathode of a photomultiplier tube to the first dynode.
Another significant object of particular embodiments of the invention can be to reduce the total flow of electrons to the N electrode of a photomultiplier tube.
Another significant object of particular embodiments of the invention can be to allow increased light flux to the photocathode of the photomultiplier tube without proportionately increasing the amount of background signal generated by the photomultiplier tube.
Another significant object of particular embodiments of the invention can be to increase the signal to background signal ratio from measured photoemissive events.
Another significant object of particular embodiments of the invention can be to allow increased amplification of the signal generated from the photomultiplier tube during high incident light flux events or serial high incident light flux events without saturating the photocathode of the photomultiplier tube.
Another significant object of particular embodiments of the invention can be to increase the apparent resolution of chromatograms or histograms resulting from sorting fluorochrome stained sperm, or other cells, or other objects, having small differences in emitted light flux upon excitation of the bound fluorochrome(s).
Another significant object of particular embodiments of the invention can be to improve the calibration of sorting flow cytometer instruments when used for sorting spermatozoa.
Another significant object of particular embodiments of the invention can be to increase the sperm sorting rate of flow cytometer systems.
Another significant object of particular embodiments of the invention can be to increase the purity of the sperm samples sorted by flow cytometry.
Another significant object of particular embodiments of the invention can be to provide techniques for the sorting of X-chromosome bearing sperm from Y-chromosome bearing sperm where there is a small difference in the amount of Y chromosome DNA to the amount of X chromosome DNA relative to the total amount of nuclear DNA.
Another significant object of particular embodiments of the invention can be to provide techniques which improve the apparent resolution of histograms generated during the process of sorting X-chromosome bearing sperm from Y-chromosome bearing sperm with a flow cytometer.
Another significant object of particular embodiments of the invention can be to provide beam shaping optics which minimizes coincidence of objects within the excitation/detection path.
Another significant object of particular embodiments of the invention can be to provide beam shaping optics that minimizes the total lumens an object is exposed to traversing the excitation beam. One aspect of this object can be to decrease the total lumens an object is exposed to. A second aspect of this object can be to increase the power of the light source without increasing the total lumens the object is exposed to.
Another significant object of particular embodiments of the invention can be to provide beam shaping optics that allow for uniform exposure of objects that pass through the optical path.
Another significant object of particular embodiments of the invention can be to provide a nozzle that orients irregularly shaped objects in a fluid stream. One aspect this object can be to orient elongated objects in the same direction. A second aspect of this object can be to orient dorso-laterally flatted objects in the same direction.
Another significant object of particular embodiments of the invention can be to fully encapsulate irregularly shaped objects within a drop of fluid.
Another significant object of particular embodiments of the invention can be to differentiate undesirably oriented objects from desirably oriented objects in a fluid stream.
Another object of an embodiment of the invention can be to provide differential interference contrast technology, whereby the object-plane consists of a fluid stream carrying the objects of interest, and whereby the image-plane can be used to measure the signal from the passing objects.
Another object of an embodiment of the invention can be to provide optics that form two laterally separated images from each object in such a way that one can be used to measure the actual volume, and one to determine the orientation. This way, objects that were not orientated properly to allow a accurate measurement of its volume can be discarded. This can be accomplished by modifications so that the light pulses, resulting from these two images can be detected independently using two pinholes in the image plane. Optics are tuned in such a way that a first image can give rise to a light pulse proportional to the volume of the object, and that a second image can give rise to a light pulse dependent on the orientation the object had when it was measured.
Another object of an embodiment of the invention can provide a manner of compensating for the fact that the objects are contained inside a fluid stream. The fluid stream can be a cylinder of water, for example, which acts as a cylindrical lens, thus distorting the image of the object. Optically, this corresponds to cylinder of higher refractive index (water) than its surroundings (air). The compensation disclosed in this invention can consist of, for example, a cylinder having a refractive index lower than its surroundings, although other compensating elements of various shapes and refractive index may also be designed as the need requires. By making sure the light passes through this compensation element, the optical effect of the fluid stream can be compensated by the exactly opposite behavior of the compensation element.
IV. BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
Naturally further objects of the invention are disclosed throughout other areas of the specification and claims.
FIG. 1 shows a generalized flow cytometer.
FIG. 2 shows a second view of a generalized flow cytometer.
FIG. 3 shows a comparison of univariate histograms from flow cytometers (#1, #2, and #3) without the amplifier invention (FIG. 3A) with univariate histograms for the same flow cytometers using a particular embodiment of the amplification invention (FIG. 3B) illustrating the improved resolution between X-chromosome bearing and Y-chromosome bearing populations of bovine spermatozoa.
FIG. 4 shows univariate and bivariate histograms illustrating the conventional resolution between X-chromosome bearing and Y-chromosome bearing populations of bovine spermatozoa.
FIG. 5 shows univariate and bivariate histograms illustrating improved resolution between X-chromosome bearing and Y-chromosome bearing populations of bovine spermatozoa using a particular embodiment of the amplification invention.
FIG. 6 shows a second example of univariate and bivariate histograms illustrating the conventional resolution between X-chromosome bearing and Y-chromosome bearing populations of bovine spermatozoa.
FIG. 7 shows a second example of univariate and bivariate histograms illustrating the improved resolution between X-chromosome bearing and Y-chromosome bearing populations of bovine spermatozoa using a particular embodiment of the amplification invention.
FIG. 8 shows univariate and bivariate histograms illustrating the conventional resolution between X-chromosome bearing and Y-chromosome bearing populations of equine spermatozoa.
FIG. 9 shows univariate and bivariate histograms illustrating the improved resolution between X-chromosome bearing and Y-chromosome bearing populations of equine spermatozoa using a particular embodiment of the amplification invention.
FIG. 10 shows univariate and bivariate histograms illustrating the improved resolution between X-chromosome bearing and Y-chromosome bearing populations of equine spermatozoa nuclei using a particular embodiment of the amplification invention.
FIG. 11 shows a particular embodiment of the circuit board modification to make the amplification invention with respect to a MoFlo® flow cytometer.
FIG. 12 shows an electrical schematic diagram of a particular embodiment of the amplification invention with respect to a MoFlo® flow cytometer.
FIG. 13 shows the laser beam pattern using conventional beam shape optics (FIG. 13A) and the laser beam pattern using the reduced height beam shape optics (FIG. 13B).
FIG. 14 shows a bar graph that compares the purity of separated X-chromosome bearing spermatozoa (FIG. 14A) and Y-chromosome bearing spermatozoa (FIG. 14B) using conventional technology or using the amplification invention independently or in conjunction with reduced height beam shaping optics.
FIG. 15 shows a front view of the reduced height beam shaping optics.
FIG. 16 shows a top view of the reduced height beam shaping optics.
FIG. 17 shows a perspective (FIG. 17A) and one cross section (FIG. 17 B) of the object orienting nozzle invention.
FIG. 18 shows a graded series of cross sections of the object orienting nozzle invention.
FIG. 19 shows a front view and an end view of an embodiment of the beveled injection tube invention.
FIG. 20 illustrates the removal of undesired unoriented spermatozoa (RUUS) invention by comparison of signal(s) from the oriented spermatozoa (FIGS. 20A and 20B) and the signal(s) from the unoriented spermatozoa (FIGS. 20C and 20D).
FIG. 21A shows a perspective of another embodiment of the beveled injection tube invention having a paddle shaped beveled blade and FIG. 21B shows a cross-section of the injection tube.
FIG. 22 shows a conventional optics technology coupled to a flow cytometer.
FIG. 23A shows the shape and size of a typical spermatozoon and FIG. 23B shows the difference between correctly and non-correctly orientated spermatozoa.
FIG. 24 shows an embodiment of the invention having construction allowing the measurement of two signals, for example volume and orientation.
FIGS. 25A and B shows an embodiment of the invention having two halves with a pinhole corresponding to each half, FIG. 25C shows an image plane of an embodiment of the invention, FIG. 25D shows an embodiment of the invention having two independently rotatable polarizers.
FIGS. 26A and 26B illustrates the compensation method for the fluid stream for an embodiment of the invention, FIG. 26C shows an embodiment of a compensation element, 26 D shows another embodiment of a compensation element where images of a fluid stream and from the compensation element fall on top of each other in the image plane.
FIG. 27 shows an embodiment of the interference optics invention.
V. MODE(S) FOR CARRYING OUT THE INVENTION
FIG. 28 shows an a second view of the interference optics invention.
The invention involves isolated high purity X-chromosome bearing and Y-chromosome bearing populations of spermatozoa or sperm cells. High purity X-chromosome bearing and Y-chromosome bearing populations of spermatozoa can comprise populations of intact live spermatozoa, and may also comprise populations of tailless spermatozoa (sperm nuclei), or populations of other viable or non-viable forms of spermatozoa, as may be desired. While particular examples are provided that describe the invention in the context of separating intact live sperm cells each having a sperm cell head, necks, and tail, it should be understood that the technologies described can have various applications with respect to sperm nuclei as well. X-chromosome bearing and Y-chromosome bearing populations of spermatozoa should further be understood to encompass spermatozoa from any male of a species of mammal including, but not limited to, spermatozoa from humans and spermatozoa from commonly known animals such as bovids, equids, ovids, canids, felids, goats, or swine, as well as less commonly known animals such as elephants, zebra, camels, or kudu. This list of animals is intended to be exemplary of the great variety of animals from which spermatozoa can be routinely sorted at 90% or greater purity, and is not intended to limit the description of the invention to the spermatozoa from any particular species of mammals.
High purity separated spermatozoa from the various species of mammals can be incorporated into products that can be used with artificial insemination protocols or as part of commercial business methods such as those as described in U.S. Patent Application Nos. 60/211,093, 60/224,050, or Patent Cooperation Treaty Application No. US99/17165; or be used with low dose insemination protocols as described in Patent Cooperation Treaty Application No. US98/27909, or used in vitro fertilization of oocytes from animals, including humans, as described in U.S. Patent Application No. 60/253,785, each of the above-mentioned references are hereby incorporated by reference.
The use of the term purity or high purity should be understood to be the percent of the isolated spermatozoa population bearing a particular differentiating characteristic or desired combination of characteristics. For example, where a population of spermatozoa are separated based upon bearing an X-chromosome as opposed to a Y-chromosome, a X-chromosome bearing population having 90% purity comprises a population of spermatozoa of which 90% of the individual spermatozoa bear an X-chromosome while 10% of such population of spermatozoa may bear a Y-chromosome. As such, high purity with respect to X-chromosome bearing populations or Y-chromosome bearing populations can comprise a purity selected from the group consisting of between 90% to about 100%, between about 91% to about 100%, between about 92% to about 100%, between about 93% to about 100%, between about 94% to about 100%, between about 95% to about 100%, between about 96% to about 100%, between about 97% to about 100%, between about 98% to about 100%, between about 99% to about 100%.
Importantly, while numerous embodiments of the invention describe isolated high purity X-chromosome and Y-chromosome bearing populations of spermatozoa, and while the description further discloses high purity spermatozoa separation devices and methods of how to isolate and how to use isolated high purity populations of spermatozoa, the basic concepts of the invention should be understood to be applicable to other types of particles or events having particle differentiation characteristics or event differentiation characteristics. It should be understood that the invention can be applicable to a variety of circumstances in which resolving small differences in photogenerated signal may be necessary, such as product defect detection, field flow fractionation, liquid chromatography, electrophoresis, computer tomography, gamma cameras, time of flight instruments, or the like as would be readily understood by those skilled in those arts.
Moreover, while this disclosure provides descriptions of embodiments of apparatus and methods for flow separation of X-chromosome bearing spermatozoa from Y-chromosome bearing spermatozoa, the description of these embodiments of the invention is not meant to reduce the scope of the invention to only flow separation of spermatozoa or only to high purity flow cytometer spermatozoa separation systems but rather these examples are intended to exemplify the basic concepts of the invention in a practical manner so that they may be applied to the wide variety of applications.
Now referring to FIGS. 1 and 2, a flow cytometer embodiment of the invention is shown which includes a particle or cell source (1) which acts to establish or supply particles or cells stained with at least one fluorochrome for analysis. The particles or cells are deposited within a nozzle (2) in a manner such that the particles or cells are introduced into a fluid stream or sheath fluid (3). The sheath fluid (3) is usually supplied by some sheath fluid source (4) so that as the particle or cell source (1) supplies the particles or cells into the sheath fluid (4) they are concurrently fed through the nozzle (2).
In this manner it can be easily understood how the sheath fluid (3) forms a sheath fluid environment for the particles or cells. Since the various fluids are provided to the flow cytometer at some pressure, they flow out of nozzle (2) and exit at the nozzle orifice (5). By providing some type of oscillator (6) which may be very precisely controlled through an oscillator control (7), pressure waves may be established within the nozzle (2) and transmitted to the fluids exiting the nozzle (2) at nozzle orifice (5). Since the oscillator (6) acts upon the sheath fluid (3), the stream (8) exiting the nozzle orifice (5) eventually and regularly forms drops (9). Because the particles or cells are surrounded by the fluid stream or sheath fluid environment, the drops (9) may entrain within them individually isolated particles or cells, and can be sperm cells with respect to some embodiments of the invention.
Since the drops (9) can entrain particles or cells, the flow cytometer can be used to separate particles, cells, sperm cells or the like based upon particle or cell characteristics. This is accomplished through a particle or cell sensing system (10). The particle or cell sensing system involves at least some type of detector or sensor (11) which responds to the particles or cells contained within fluid stream (8). The particle or cell sensing system (10) may cause an action depending upon the relative presence or relative absence of a characteristic, such as fluorochrome bound to the particle or cell or the DNA within the cell that may be excited by an irradiation source such as a laser exciter (12) generating an irradiation beam to which the particle can be responsive. While each type of particle, cell, or the nuclear DNA of sperm cells may be stained with at least one type of fluorochrome different amounts of fluorochrome bind to each individual particle or cell based on the number of binding sites available to the particular type of fluorochrome used. With respect to spermatozoa, the availability of binding sites for Hoechst 33342 stain is dependant upon the amount of DNA contained within each spermatozoa. Because X-chromosome bearing spermatozoa contain more DNA than Y-chromosome bearing spermatozoa, the X-chromosome bearing spermatozoa can bind a greater amount of fluorochrome than Y-chromosome bearing spermatozoa. Thus, by measuring the fluorescence emitted by the bound fluorochrome upon excitation, it is possible to differentiate between X-bearing spermatozoa and Y-bearing spermatozoa.
In order to achieve separation and isolation based upon particle or cell characteristics, emitted light can be received by sensor (11) and fed to some type of separation discrimination system or analyzer (13) coupled to a droplet charger which differentially charges each droplet (9) based upon the characteristics of the particle or cell contained within that droplet (9). In this manner the separation discrimination system or analyzer (13) acts to permit the electrostatic deflection plates (14) to deflect drops (9) based on whether or not they contain the appropriate particle or cell.
As a result, the flow cytometer acts to separate the particle or cells (16) by causing them to be directed to one or more collection containers (15). For example, when the analyzer differentiates sperm cells based upon a sperm cell characteristic, the droplets entraining X-chromosome bearing spermatozoa can be charged positively and thus deflect in one direction, while the droplets entraining Y-chromosome bearing spermatozoa can be charged negatively and thus deflect the other way, and the wasted stream (that is droplets that do not entrain a particle or cell or entrain undesired or unsortable cells) can be left uncharged and thus is collected in an undeflected stream into a suction tube or the like as discussed in U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/001,394, hereby incorporated by reference herein. Naturally, numerous deflection trajectories can be established and collected simultaneously.
To routinely separate particles, cells, sperm cells, or spermatozoa (intact, live, fixed, viable, non-viable, or nuclei) into high purity X-chromosome bearing and Y-chromosome bearing populations, the particle differentiation apparatus or methods used must provide high resolution of the differentiation characteristics that are used as the basis of analysis and separation.
With respect to spermatozoa, differentiating between the light emitted by the fluorochrome bound to the nuclear DNA of X-chromosome bearing sperm cells and the light emitted by the fluorochrome bound to the nuclear DNA of Y-chromosome bearing sperm cells may be difficult as discussed above.
In many applications, the total emitted light from photoemissive events incident to the detector, which can be a photomultiplier tube, can be high while the difference between the emitted light of each photoemissive events to be differentiated can be small. The problem can be exacerbated when the photoemissive events happen serially at high rate of speed and the time period between photoemissive events is short, such as with high speed cell sorting using flow cytometers. When separating particles, cells, or sperm cells based upon the difference in bound fluorochrome the cells flow past an excitation source and a high number of emissive events per second can be established. As a result, the amount of emitted light generated in the stream of particles, cells, or sperm cells, can be enormous. As the speed of the stream is increased, the intercept point with the excitation source becomes very bright. This high level of incident light upon the photocathode of the photomultiplier tube can cause a very low signal to background signal ratio. The amount of background signal can be further exacerbated when fluorochrome such as Hoechst 33342 can be used to label the nuclear DNA of sperm cells.
Most solutions to the problem have focused on decreasing the total amount of light flux upon the photocathode tube by placing optical filters in front of the photomultiplier tube. This approach does not change the proportion of signal to background signal and subsequent attempts to increase the sensitivity of the photomultiplier tube generates additional background signal as the photomultiplier tube saturates from the amount of background signal.
Typically, photomultiplier tubes have an operation voltage range of about 400 volts to about 900 volts. The lower limit of linear operation of standard photomultiplier tubes, such as the R928 and R1477 photomultiplier tubes available from Hamamatsu Corporation, may be about 300 volts. As such, equipment or instruments which employ photomultiplier tubes are configured to operate such photomultiplier tubes at or above 400 volts. Even where reduction of the number of electrons at the anode is desired, as disclosed in U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,501,366 and 5,880,457 the voltage between the photocathode and the first dynode is maintained at a high voltage and reduction of the electrons at the anode is accomplished by either decreasing the voltage to the remaining dynodes, or the inherent dark noise or shot noise is filtered out electronically.
Unexpectedly, reducing the amount of voltage to the photomultiplier tube below 400 volts to about 280 volts, or about 250 volts, or even to just above 0 volts can allow small differences in photoemissive light to be differentiated even when the total light emitted from each photoemissive event is high, or even when there are a high number of bright serial events per second. With respect to the rate of photoemmissive events generated from the irradiation of fluorochromes bound to the nuclear DNA of spermatozoa, the invention allows the rate of photoemmissive events that can be achieved during separation of spermatozoa into X-chromosome bearing and Y-chromosome bearing populations to be increased to a separable event rate of at least 5000 separable events per second, at least 6000 separable events per second, at least 7000 separable events per second, at least 8000 separable events per second, at least 9000 separable events per second, at least 10,000 separable events per second, at least 11,000 separable events per second, at least 12,000 separable events per second, at least 13,000 separable events per second, at least 14,000 separable events per second, at least 15,000 separable events per second, at least 16,000 separable events per second, at least 17,000 separable events per second, at least 18,000 separable events per second, at least 19,000 separable events per second, at least 20,000 separable events per second, at least 25,000 separable events per second, at least 30,000 separable events per second, and at least 35,000 separable events per second, or greater.
As a specific example, existing Cytomation SX MoFlo® sorting flow cytometers are configured to operate the photomultiplier tube at 400 volts minimum. The gain can be adjusted to operate the photomultiplier tube at higher voltages but not lower voltages. SX MoFlo® flow cytometers can be converted by reconfiguring the photomultiplier controllers. The R16C resistor (2.49 kilohms) on channel three can be replaced by a 2.0K resistor to alter the gain of the amplifier that controls the photomultiplier tube. This conversion allowed the photomultiplier tube to be operated at about 280 volts. Similar conversion of SX MoFlo® flow cytometers with two 3.75 kilohm resistors in parallel, or a 1.3 kilohm resistors can allow the photomultiplier tube to be operated at voltages of about 200 volts, or just above zero volts, respectively. Also with respect to this conversion, the neutral density filter in front of the photocathode can also be removed as a result of operating the photomultiplier tube outside of the typical operation voltage range.
This conversion unexpectedly increases the signal to noise ratio of the photoemissive event as it is translated to an electronic signal by the photomultiplier tube. The cleaner signal may then be amplified by increasing the gain amplifier to the analog to digital converter of the analyzer (13) to the appropriate level and output may be generated as univariate or bivariate histograms.
Now referring to FIG. 3, a comparison of univariate histograms generated on three different SX MoFlo® flow cytometers (#1, #2, #3) prior to the use of the invention (FIG. 1A), and using the invention (FIG. 1B) with respect to the separation of intact live ejaculated bovine sperm are shown. As can be understood from the univariate histograms, the resolution (the apparent differentiation of the X-chromosome bearing population from the Y-chromosome bearing population represented by the valley between peaks) of intact live X-chromosome bearing spermatozoa (17) from live Y-chromosome bearing spermatozoa (18) can be substantially improved by use of the invention.
The mean separation rate or sort rates of intact live spermatozoa prior to use of this embodiment of the invention with the SX MoFlo® flow cytometers was about 17.9×106/4.5 hours of both X-chromosome bearing spermatozoa and Y-chromosome bearing spermatozoa (i.e. about 1,100 separations or sorts per second in each of two streams—the first stream X-chromosome bearing spermatozoa and the second stream Y-chromosome bearing spermatozoa) at about 87% purity with a range of 84% to 93% purity. The separable event rate was 22,000, 23,000, and 20,000 respectively for the three sorts.
The mean sort rates of live spermatozoa after the above-mentioned conversion was about 40.3×106/4.5 hour sort (i.e. about 2,500 sorts per second per stream) at about 90.8% purity with a range of 89% to about 92%. The events per second were 13,000, 15,000, and 19,500 respectively for the three sorts.
As can be understood from the data not only did this embodiment of the invention result in increased purity of the separated spermatozoa populations but also allowed the separation rate or sort rate to be more than doubled while the separable events rate was actually decreased.
Similarly, referring now to FIGS. 4 and 5, which show bivariate histograms from sorting of intact live bull spermatozoa with the SX MoFlo® flow cytometer #1 prior to using the invention (FIG. 4) and after the above-mentioned conversion (FIG. 5). Prior to using the invention, the SX MoFlo® flow cytometer was initially operated at 440 volts at the photocathode with the laser adjusted to 135 MW, a gain of 1× and with a neutral density filter of 1.0 ( 1/10th amplitude) at about 10,000 events per second. Upon using the invention, the SX MoFlo® flow cytometer was operated at about 262 volts at the photocathode, with the laser adjusted to about 100 mW, a gain of 4×, without the neutral density filter, at about 10,000 separable events per second. As can be understood from this data there is a large increase in resolution as evidenced by the increased depth of the valley between the X-chromosome bearing population (19) and the Y-chromosome bearing population (20).
Similarly, referring now to FIGS. 6 and 7, which show bivariate histograms from sorting of intact live bull spermatozoa with the SX MoFlo® flow cytometer #2 before using this embodiment of the invention (FIG. 6) and upon using this embodiment of the invention (FIG. 7) operated at the same parameters as shown in FIGS. 3 and 4 respectively. Again, there can be a large increase in resolution as evidenced by the depth of the valley between the X-chromosome bearing population (21) and the Y-chromosome bearing population (22).
Now referring to FIGS. 8 and 9, which show bivariate histograms from separation or sorting of intact live equine spermatozoa with the SX MoFlo® flow cytometer before using this embodiment of the invention (FIG. 8) and upon using this embodiment of the invention (FIG. 9). When using this embodiment of the invention, live equine spermatozoa were separated or sorted with the laser power at 100 mW with the photomultiplier tube voltage below 300 volts. The separation rates or sort rates exceeded 4,800 sorts per second average at 12,000 events per second. The increased resolution of the X-chromosome bearing population (23) and the Y-chromosome bearing population (24) is dramatic. The data shows that about 8 to about 9 channels separation can be achieved with this embodiment of the invention as compared to 5 channels of separation between the peaks without the use of this embodiment of the invention. The purity of both the sorted X-chromosome bearing population and the sorted Y-chromosome bearing population was about 93%.
Now referring to FIG. 10, which shows a univariate histogram and a bivariate dot plot from sorting of Hoechst 33342 stained stallion sperm nuclei (S-05400) separated using this embodiment of the invention. The nuclei were prepared from freshly ejaculated stallion sperm. The sperm were washed by centrifugation, sonicated and the resultant heads and tails separated using Percoll density gradient centrifugation. the isolated heads were washed, fixed with 2% formalin and then stained with Hoechst 33342. The stained nuclei were stabilized using sodium azide (0.5%). The sample was run at 5000 events per second to produce the histograms. The stained nuclei were then used to calibrate an SX MoFlo® flow cytometer was converted as above-mentioned to incorporate the photomultiplier tube embodiment of the invention. Compensation was used to level the two populations (X stained nuclei and Y stained nuclei) in the bivariate plot. Note that the two populations of equine sperm nuclei are nearly fully resolved to baseline as shown by the univariate plot.
Now referring to FIG. 11, a modification specifically for SX MoFlo® flow cytometer includes the use of two resistors in parallel to provide the correct value of 1.8K. Two 3.57K resistors (25) and (26) are equal to about 1.785K which can be sufficiently close to the value to be effective. With this modification the photomultiplier tube on this particular instrument can then be run at about 200 volts. Naturally, a similar modification can be made to other flow cytometer instruments or other instruments which use a photomultiplier tube to measure the amount of light emitted from particular events. FIG. 12, provides a electrical schematic diagram for this particular embodiment of the invention.
Another important embodiment of the invention can be a reduced height irradiation beam pattern optics. As shown by FIG. 13A, conventional irradiation beam shaping optics generate a beam pattern (27) that can have a height can be greater than much greater than the height of the sperm cell head(s) (28) passing through it. As a result, more than a single sperm cell head containing fluorochrome bound DNA can enter the irradiation beam pattern at the same time. In that case, the fluorochrome(s) bound to the DNAs contained within the multiple sperm heads can be excited simultaneously and fluoresce within a single emissive event. As such, the prior or subsequent emissive event can include coincident light flux contributed from other sperm head(s) in the beam pattern (27). This results in a reduced difference in mean light flux between light emissive events which distinguish between X-chromosome bearing spermatozoa and Y-chromosome bearing spermatozoa. It can also decrease the difference in mean light flux between events that compare light emissions of X-chromosome bearing spermatozoa or Y-chromosome bearing spermatozoa. Importantly, coincident excitation of fluorochrome bound to multiple DNAs increases the mean brightness of the events making the measurable difference in light flux between events an even smaller percentage of the total light flux emitted. This makes quantification of the differences between events even more difficult.
By reducing the height of the beam shape as shown by FIG. 13B, the coincidence of multiple sperm heads being within the reduced height beam (29) pattern during the same measured event is reduced. This results in an increased mean difference between light emissive events which distinguish between X-chromosome bearing spermatozoa and Y-chromosome bearing spermatozoa. It can also reduce the mean total light flux for each measured emissive event. For particular embodiments of the invention used for sorting bovine sperm which have a nucleus of about 9 μm, it has been found that the height of the beam can be about 20 μm. In this application, it has been found that vertical beam heights of less than 20 μm did not provide an additional gain in resolution.
Referring to FIG. 14, it can be understood that the use of reduced height irradiation beam pattern optics can improve the purity of sorted populations of X-chromosome bearing bovine spermatozoa (FIG. 14A) and sorted populations of Y-chromosome bearing bovine sperm (FIG. 14B) that have been stained with Hoechst 33342 stain. This is true for both 25% and 40% sort gates of the univariate peak. As can be further understood from FIG. 14, the reduced height beam pattern optics can improve purity of separated spermatozoa independent of any other aspect of the invention, such as modification of photomultiplier circuitry embodiment of the invention (new PMT) as described above, or can be used in conjunction with the modified photomultiplier embodiment of the invention to increase the purity of separated spermatozoa samples even further.
Another advantage of the reduced height beam pattern optics can be that the transit time of the spermatozoa in the excitation laser beam or irradiation beam can be reduced. A reduced amount of irradiation time within the excitation laser beam may result in less stress or damage to the spermatozoa.
Again referring to FIG. 14B, it can be understood that the reduced height beam pattern can be used in conjunction with a irradiation beam pattern having greater area than conventionally used. For example, conventional beam patterns (27), such as that shown in FIG. 14A, have an elliptical pattern of about 30 um×80 um while the invention when used for sorting bovine sperm generates optimal resolution between X-chromosome bearing and Y-chromosome bearing populations when the beam has a 20 um×160 um beam pattern (29). The 20 um×160 um beam pattern has approximately 1.3 times the area of the 30 um×80 um beam pattern. As such, there can be an inverse proportion in loss of energy at the incident point. This makes it possible to increase the excitation laser power without concern for increasing the irradiation damage to the spermatozoa. For example, if an instrument has conventional beam shaping optics that produce a 30 um×80 um irradiation beam pattern and the excitation laser is conventionally powered at 150 mW, then particular embodiments of the invention with a 20 um×160 um beam pattern can have an excitation laser powered at 300 mW without increasing the total amount of power at the incident point. Alternately, the excitation laser can be run at 150 mW to take advantage of the lower per unit area irradiation energy, decreased irradiation damage, longer laser life, and the like.
In comparison to conventional beam shaping optics and conventional photomultiplier tube amplification devices, the reduced height beam pattern optics invention and the photomultiplier tube amplification invention can increase the purity of X-chromosome bearing and Y-chromosome bearing populations of spermatozoa by about 4%, or more.
The beam shaping optics invention (30) can be installed to a flow cytometer as shown in FIGS. 15 and 16. As can be understood, the light emitted (31) by laser excitation of fluorochrome(s) bound to the DNA contained within spermatozoa can be detected by photomultiplier tubes (32) situated at 0 and 90 degrees relative to the flat surface of the sperm head (28) as it flows through the excitation laser beam pattern.
As can be understood, stained spermatozoa must be pumped through the excitation beam or irradiation beam in a precise manner so that each sperm head is oriented with the flat surface of the sperm head directed toward the photomultiplier tube that is the 0 degree detector. Accurate measurement of the DNA content of the spermatozoa can only be measured from the flat surface of the paddle-shaped sperm head (28). Thus, only that proportion of the spermatozoa that enter the excitation beam in the proper orientation can be measured accurately and sorted based upon DNA content.
Now referring to FIGS. 17, 18, and 19, particular embodiments of the invention can also have an particle or sperm cell orienting nozzle (33) that hydrodynamically forces the flattened sperm head into the proper orientation as they pass in front of the photomultiplier(s). As shown by FIG. 17, the orienting nozzle has interior surfaces (34) that form a cone-like shape. The internal cone gradually changes from circular at the inlet end (35) into a highly elliptical shape near the orifice (36) where the stream exits the tip. The orifice (36) can be circular rather than elliptical. Thus, the internal aspect of the orienting nozzle (34) goes from a round entrance to a narrow ellipse to a round exit shortly before the orifice (36). This internal shape is further clarified by the cross sections of the orienting nozzle shown by FIG. 18.
As shown by FIGS. 19 and 21, the injection tube (37) (which may be about 0.061 inches in diameter) can be used with the orientation nozzle (or with a conventional nozzle) (33) which can be beveled near the tip to form a blade (38). The flattened blade (38) can be oriented at an angle 90 degrees from the greatest dimension of the ellipse in the orientation nozzle (33). The internal diameter of the injection needle can be about 0.010 inch in diameter forming a rounded orifice (39) in the center of the flattened needle tube blade (38).
In particular embodiments of the beveled injection tube the beveled blade can be configured in the paddle shape illustrated by FIG. 21. The paddle shaped beveled blade can assist in maintaining laminar flow of the sheath fluid within the nozzle (whether conventional nozzle or orienting nozzle). As such, the laminar flow of liquid maintained by the paddle shaped beveled blade presents less disruption of the objects injected into it. Spermatozoa introduced into the laminar flow of sheath fluid maintained by an embodiment of the injector tube invention having the paddle shaped beveled blade allows for a 20%, 30%, 40%, 50% or even greater increase in spermatozoa sorting rates over conventional injection tube technology. High speed sorting of spermatozoa at rates of about 4,000 to about 10,000 sorts of each sex per second can be accomplished. High purity (90% or greater) of the X-chromosome bearing and Y-chromosome bearing populations can be established at even these high sort rates. The injector tube invention with the beveled paddle shaped tip can be used independently of or in combination with the other inventions described herein or other technology such as that described in U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/454,488 or International Patent Application No. PCT/US00/42350, each hereby incorporated by reference.
As shown by FIG. 21, certain embodiments of the beveled blade injector tube invention or beveled blade paddle shape invention can further include laminar flow enhancement grooves (40). The laminar flow enhancement grooves (40) assist in maintaining a laminar flow to the orifice of the injector tube. Again, the enhanced laminar flow allows for more spermatozoa to maintain the correct orientation in the laminar sheath fluid flow resulting in higher numbers of sortable event rates which in turn leads to higher sort rates for each sex or spermatozoa.
In another embodiment of the invention, the orienting nozzle orifice (39) or other conventional can be sized to form droplets which encapsulate intact live sperm as they exit the orifice (39). Encapsulation of the sperm cells does not occur in conventional sperm cell entrainment technology. Rather a portion of the sperm cell tail resides outside of the droplet. For example, bovine sperm cells have a length of about 13.5 microseconds when the fluid stream has a pressure of about 50 pounds per square inch (i.e. the length of time for the entire length of the sperm cell to pass through the irradiation beam at about 50 pounds per square inch fluid stream pressure). Conventional droplet formation techniques for entraining bovine sperm cells establish various conditions such as a 14 microsecond droplet (i.e. the time it takes to form a single droplet waveform in a fluid stream), a nozzle having an orifice with a diameter of about 70 micrometers, and an oscillator operated at about 35 kilohertz. Regardless of parameters selected in conventional systems, a portion of the sperm cell tail readily protrudes from the droplet. To prevent the sperm cell tail from protruding from the droplet, one embodiment of the droplet encapsulation invention provides an orifice of about 100 micrometers that can produce a droplet of about 28 microseconds at about 50 pounds per square inch at about 30 kilohertz. By entirely encapsulating the intact live sperm cell, including the tail portion, the sperm cell interacts with the nozzle less upon charging of the droplet and the deflection of the droplet can be more accurate. This leads to less cross contamination of X-chromosome bearing sperm with Y-chromosome bearing sperm and also allows deflected spermatozoa to be more uniformly collected. Sperm that are uniformly deflected can be directed to collection surfaces that are cushioned by various liquids. Cushioning the separated spermatozoa can be important in reducing stress as described in U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/001,394, hereby incorporated by reference. With respect to spermatozoa from other species of mammals, the invention can be varied to produce droplet sizes to encapsulate the varying lengths of sperm cells. Depending on the length of the spermatozoa and the pressure of the fluid stream the droplet encapsulation invention can still achieve droplet formation rates of at least 10,000 droplets per second, at least 20,000 droplets per second, at least 30,000 droplets per second, at least 40,000 droplets per second, at least 50,000 droplets per second, at least 60,000 droplets per second, at least 70,000 droplets per second, at least 80,000 droplets per second, at least 90,000 droplets per second, at least 100,000 droplets per second and so on up to about 200,000 droplets per second in some embodiments of the droplet encapsulation invention.
Even with the orienting nozzle invention there will be a certain number of spermatozoa, or particles, which are not properly oriented in the beam pattern. As described above, if the orientation of a sperm head is not proper then the DNA content cannot be measured accurately based upon the emitted light. Particular embodiments of the present invention provide for the removal of undesired unoriented spermatozoa (RUUS) or particles within a fluid stream.
Referring now to FIGS. 16 and 20A, it can be understood that accurate measurement of the DNA content of a spermatozoa depends upon the flat surface of the paddle-shaped sperm head (28) being oriented properly with the detector. Thus, only that proportion of the spermatozoa that enter the excitation beam in the proper orientation as shown by FIGS. 16 and 20A can be measured accurately and sorted in to X-chromosome bearing and Y-chromosome bearing populations based upon DNA content. As shown by FIGS. 20A and 20B, spermatozoa which transit through the excitation beam in proper orientation generate an oriented emission signal plot (40) that can be shaped differently than the unoriented emission signal plot (41) that is generated by unoriented spermatozoa shown by FIG. 20D. Naturally, the shape of the unoriented emission signal plot (41) generated by unoriented spermatozoa will vary depending on the degree of improper orientation in the excitation beam. These improper orientations can include the orientation shown in FIG. 20C but can also include all manner of orientations that rotate the sperm head any portion of a rotation that orients the surface of the paddle-shaped head out of alignment with the detector (proper alignment shown by FIG. 16), or any portion of a rotation that orients the axis of the sperm head (42) out of alignment with the direction of flow. Naturally, proper orientation may be defined differently from species to species. For some species, in which the sperm head is not paddle-shaped, the proper orientation within the excitation beam, or relative to the detectors or otherwise, may be defined by other anatomical characteristics or signal characteristics. Nonetheless, an optimized signal for the properly oriented spermatozoa of various species within the excitation window can be generated as the standard emission signal plots for subsequent comparison with serial emission events.
By comparing the shape (or the integrated area or both) of each emission signal plot with the standard emission signal plot (or standard integrated area or both) established for an oriented spermatozoa of a species of mammal, unoriented sperm can be identified, the signal subtracted from univariate or bivariate histograms, and the unoriented sperm can be affirmatively removed, if desired, so that unoriented sperm are not collected into either the X-chromosome bearing population or the Y-chromosome bearing population.
Importantly, as the invention(s) improve(s) resolution between the two spermatozoa populations being separated which increase the rate at which the populations can be separated from one another, and improves the purity of the populations that are separated. As such, it is now possible to sort spermatozoa at remarkably high speeds. Sortable or separable event rates can be as high as about 35,000 per second (not including coincident events—multiple spermatozoa within the excitation/detection window at the same time). Sortable or separable event rates correlate with high separation or sort rates which can be about 5000 to about 11,000 intact live sperm of each sex per second with a purity of 90%, 92%, 93%, 95%, or greater. The above-described inventions also allow for even higher purity X-chromosome bearing and Y-chromosome bearing populations to be obtained of about 97% to about 98% or even higher by reducing the sort or separation rates to around 2000 live sperm of each sex per second.
As can be understood, the above inventions described are particularly important in achieving the highest possible sortable or separable event rates and highest possible resulting separation rates which can be at least 1,000 separations per second, at least 2,000 separations per second, at least 3,000 separations per second, at least 4,000 separations per second, at least 5,000 separations per second, at least 6,000 separations per second, at least 7,000 separations per second, at least 8,000 separations per second, at least 9,000 separations per second, or at least 10,000 separations per second of each sex per second, or greater.
The invention allows for high speed sorting, as set forth above, of spermatozoa even when they are difficult to stain, or have other anatomical or chemical features, that make differentiation between the X-bearing chromosome and Y-bearing chromosome populations more difficult. Even in these difficult cases, high purity X-chromosome bearing and Y-chromosome bearing populations of bovine spermatozoa can be isolated at high purity of 92% to 93% by achieving sortable event rates of about 15,000-20,000 sortable events per second or higher as described above, and sort or separation rates of intact live spermatozoa of each sex (X-chromosome bearing and Y-chromosome bearing) of 2000 intact live sperm of each sex per second.
Now referring to FIGS. 23 and 24, an embodiment of the invention utilizes differential interference contrast technology to measure the volume of a particle or capsule. A basic embodiment of the invention can comprise particles that have a difference volume, such as sperm cell heads (28) that have a difference in volume between X-chromosome bearing and Y-chromosome bearing sperm cells. An electromagnetic radiation source (43) generates electromagnetic radiation or a beam of electromagnetic radiation (44) having initial waveform characteristics differentially responsive to the difference in volume between the particles or sperm cell heads (28). The electromagnetic radiation which can be laser light, but could also be numerous types of electromagnetic radiation including, but not limited to, microwave radiation, ultraviolet radiation, or the like. Upon traversing the particle or capsule or sperm head volume containing phase shifting material the electromagnetic radiation can be focused through an objective lens (45) onto a detector (46) responsive to the waveform characteristics of the electromagnetic radiation. The detector can be coupled to an analyzer (47). The analyzer can differentiate between particles based on the change in the waveform characteristics prior to traversing the volume of the particle and after traversing the volume of the particle and can analyze the signal based on integrated areas or signal shape or both. In certain embodiments the invention analyzing waveform characteristics can comprise superimposing initial waveform characteristics with altered waveform characteristics upon traversing the volume of the particle, capsule, or sperm cell head. Superimposing the initial waveform characteristics and the phase shifted waveform characteristic can differentially modulate the intensity of the beam of electromagnetic radiation in manner that correlates to the amount of phase shift media the electromagnetic radiation traverses. The invention may also include additional filters (48), such as color filters.
Now referring to FIG. 24, an embodiment of the optics invention involves using differential interference contrast optics that increase the actual distance over which the light is split up compared to conventional DIC microscopy which corresponds to the resolution limit of the microscope. In this embodiment of the invention, the induced split is larger than the size of the objects, thus giving rise to two individual images, separated laterally, originating from one object. The second modification involves using plates of birefringent material, such as Savart plates, at a location away from the objective lens. This embodiment of the invention is easier to construct since the birefringent materials do not have to be located inside the objective housing. In conventional DIC microscopes the birefringent material is used in the form of so-called Wollaston prisms, that have to be located inside the objective housing, making it necessary to use expensive objective lenses that have been manufactured specifically for this purpose.
Components of an embodiment of the invention may be arranged in line with each other and consist of: a source of electromagnetic radiation (43), for example, a Mercury arc lamp; a spectral adjustment element, for example, a bandpass filter; a polarization adjustment element (49), for example, a sheet polarizer (53) and a waveplate (54) responsive to a rotatable mount; a light condenser (51) allowing the light to be condensed onto the particle or sperm cell, for example, a condenser lens, or set of lenses, or microscope objective; a fluid stream (8) that may contain particles or sperm cells (28), for example a fluid jet ejected under pressure; a light collector (45) to collect the light from the particle or cell, for example a 50× high working distance microscope objective and a tube lens; a beam splitter (50) to split up the beam into two, or more, components, for example, a piece of birefringent material in the form of a Savart plate, mounted in such a way that its orientation and location can be controlled accurately; image light selector (55) to select only the light corresponding to the particle or sperm cell, for instance a set of pinholes, one pinhole (53) for each of the images formed.
In one embodiment of the invention, the components may be arranged in such a way that the light source (43) or its image are located at the back focal plane of the light condenser (45) often referred to as Köhler type illumination. The image of the object plane may best coincide with the object light selector (55) or pinhole(s) (53), in order to capture the light from individual particles or sperm cells. As shown in FIGS. 27 and 28, components can be mounted on a sturdy optical table, or bench, using mountings, posts, and holders. Components can be mounted in such a way that focusing of the object plane can be done accurately. This can be done by equipping the fluid stream with a stream position controller, such as micrometers, in order to turn the stream in and out of focus. In addition it may be necessary to equip the light condenser (51) with a light condenser position controller (61) allowing it to be focused onto the object plane. It may be necessary to take special care about the mounting of the birefringent elements or beam splitter (50), a three axis rotation element may be preferable.
Now referring to FIG. 25, embodiments of the present invention may also include the use of both generated images, in order to determine the orientation of a asymmetrical particles the fluid stream, including, but not limited to, spermatozoa such as bull sperm cells. An orientation assessment embodiments of the invention can include an optical system that allows for control of the polarization state of the light entering the system for both generated images independently. The interference optics invention may further provide polarization adjustment element (56) that controls the polarization state of light entering the system. For the orientation detection invention the polarization adjustment element (56) may be selected in such a way that it consists of two parts, that are imaged onto image light selector (55) that in one embodiment of the invention contains the pinholes (53). This can be accomplished by locating the polarization adjustment element (56) in the conjugate plane of the image plane (55), or by using other optics, to accomplish the same thing. A simple example of this component may be a ‘half-shade’ piece, for instance consisting of two hemi-circular parts of polarizing material, such as sheet-polarizer, the orientation angle of which may be chosen independently. Each pinhole in the image plane can fall in one of the halves of said hemisphere. The polarization angles can be chosen in such a way that the signal of one pinhole (53) corresponds to the volume, and is relatively independent from the orientation angle of the passing object, and the other pinhole (53) has a signal that depends, to a great degree, upon this orientation angle. The two signals may be processed by analyzer (47) in a manner similar to a conventional multi-channel flow cytometry, as but one example. With respect to this example, bivariate dotplots can be made, and also allow the user to select windows on this plot.
An improvement of the ‘half-shade’ piece described above may be the construction shown by FIG. 25D. The same said two hemispherical parts are projected onto the image plane but the way they are generated is different. A mirror (57) breaks up the light (44) into the hemi-circular parts, and recombines them back to back. Each of the halves traverses a separate means to control its polarization state. An advantage of this embodiment is that the polarization angles can be controlled continuously and independently, thus facilitating the adjustment of the set-up. Materials used in this embodiment can be supplied by standard optical supply firms, and can be mounted in the set-up using similar mounting materials as used for the interferometric optics.
Now referring to FIG. 26, In order to correct for artifacts introduced by having light pass through a non-flat region of transparent material, such as a substantially cylindrical fluid stream but including other geometries as well, embodiments of the present invention disclose the incorporation of a component similar in shape to the non-flat region, but opposite in terms of relative refractive indices. In the specific case of a flow cytometer this shape approximates a cylinder. To correct for artifacts introduced by the fact that the objects to be assessed are located within a cylindrical stream of water, is the incorporation of an optical component (58) which can be in the shape of a transparent cylinder, located inside transparent material (59) of a higher refractive index. It may be preferred that the image of the stream and of the compensation element fall on top of each other in the image plane. This can be done by locating the compensation element between the objective lens and the image plane, and by incorporating auxiliary lenses.
An embodiment of the optical component (58) can be located within a thin slice of transparent material of higher refractive index (59), for instance glass, or perspex, with a cylindrical hole drilled across it. Perspex has the advantage that it can be easier to drill a round channel into it. The cylindrical hole may be filled by a transparent material, the refractive index of which is lower than that of the surrounding material. The difference in refractive index between the substance and the surrounding material can be the same as but opposite to the difference in refractive index between the water in the stream and the surrounding air for certain applications. It may not be necessary to have the cylinder the same size as the stream of water, as long as magnification by the lenses used, makes the resulting images in the image plane the same size. In some applications, it may be desired or necessary to adjust the refractive index difference to compensate for this magnification. Manufacturing of such element out of perspex can be quite simple, and can be done by most mechanical workshops that have experience with machining perspex or the selected material. It may be made in such dimensions that it fits in a standard optical mounting hardware, to facilitate incorporation into the optics.
Exactly matching the refractive indices may be difficult. An embodiment of the invention that facilitates adjustment can be to make the substance inside the perspex, or other selected material, a transparent refractive index fluid (58), as but one example, an organic oil, or mixture of oils that have a refractive index close to the desired one. Due to the fact that the refractive index of most fluids changes with temperature, much more so than solids, or glasses, it may be possible to fine-tune the difference in refractive index by temperature. This may be done by incorporating a temperature controller (60).
Optical component (58) of transparent fluids or refractive index fluids can be supplied by chemical supply firms. These firms often have data regarding the refractive index of their fluids readily available. Some firms even offer fluids that are specially made to serve as refractive index fluids, and have a guaranteed and stable refractive index. Temperature controllers and thermostats are supplied by many firms. A practical way to apply heat to the refractive index fluid can be to use a hollow mounting made of heat conducting material, a metal as but one example, containing the refractive index fluid. Using a conventional immersion thermostat cycler, found in many laboratories, water can be pumped through the mounting, thus keeping the element at a fixed and controllable temperature.
The discussion included in this application is intended to serve as a basic description. The reader should be aware that the specific discussion may not explicitly describe all embodiments possible; many alternatives are implicit. It also may not fully explain the generic nature of the invention and may not explicitly show how each feature or element can actually be representative of a broader function or of a great variety of alternative or equivalent elements. Again, these are implicitly included in this disclosure. Where the invention is described in functionally-oriented terminology, each aspect of the function is accomplished by a device, subroutine, or program. Apparatus claims may not only be included for the devices described, but also method or process claims may be included to address the functions the invention and each element performs. Neither the description nor the terminology is intended to limit the scope of the claims which now be included.
Further, each of the various elements of the invention and claims may also be achieved in a variety of manners. This disclosure should be understood to encompass each such variation, be it a variation of an embodiment of any apparatus embodiment, a method or process embodiment, or even merely a variation of any element of these. Particularly, it should be understood that as the disclosure relates to elements of the invention, the words for each element may be expressed by equivalent apparatus terms or method terms—even if only the function or result is the same. Such equivalent, broader, or even more generic terms should be considered to be encompassed in the description of each element or action. Such terms can be substituted where desired to make explicit the implicitly broad coverage to which this invention is entitled. As but one example, it should be understood that all actions may be expressed as a means for taking that action or as an element which causes that action. Similarly, each physical element disclosed should be understood to encompass a disclosure of the action which that physical element facilitates. Regarding this last aspect, as but one example, the disclosure of a “droplet separator” should be understood to encompass disclosure of the act of “separating droplets”—whether explicitly discussed or not—and, conversely, were there only disclosure of the act of “converting liquid-gas”, such a disclosure should be understood to encompass disclosure of a “droplet separator” and even a means for “separating droplets”. Such changes and alternative terms are to be understood to be explicitly included in the description.
Additionally, the various combinations and permutations of all elements or applications can be created and presented. All can be done to optimize the design or performance in a specific application.
Any acts of law, statutes, regulations, or rules mentioned in this application for patent: or patents, publications, or other references mentioned in this application for patent are hereby incorporated by reference. Specifically, U.S. Patent Application Nos. 60/267,571, 60/239,752, and 60/203,089 are each hereby incorporated by reference herein including any figures or attachments, and each of references in the following table of references are hereby incorporated by reference.
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In addition, as to each term used it should be understood that unless its utilization in this application is inconsistent with such interpretation, common dictionary definitions should be understood as incorporated for each term and all definitions, alternative terms, and synonyms such as contained in the Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary, second edition are hereby incorporated by reference. However, as to each of the above, to the extent that such information or statements incorporated by reference might be considered inconsistent with the patenting of this/these invention(s) such statements are expressly not to be considered as made by the applicant(s).
In addition, unless the context requires otherwise, it should be understood that the term “comprise” or variations such as “comprises” or “comprising”, are intended to imply the inclusion of a stated element or step or group of elements or steps but not the exclusion of any other element or step or group of elements or steps. Such terms should be interpreted in their most expansive form so as to afford the applicant the broadest coverage legally permissible in countries such as Australia and the like.
Thus, the applicant(s) should be understood to have support to claim at least: I) each of the liquid to gas conversion devices described herein, ii) the related methods disclosed and described, iii) similar, equivalent, and even implicit variations of each of these devices and methods, iv) those alternative designs which accomplish each of the functions shown as are disclosed and described, v) those alternative designs and methods which accomplish each of the functions shown as are implicit to accomplish that which is disclosed and described, vi) each feature, component, and step shown as separate and independent inventions, vii) the applications enhanced by the various systems or components disclosed, viii) the resulting products produced by such systems or components, ix) methods and apparatuses substantially as described hereinbefore and with reference to any of the accompanying examples, and the x) the various combinations and permutations of each of the elements disclosed
In addition, unless the context requires otherwise, it should be understood that the term “comprise” or variations such as “comprises” or “comprising”, are intended to imply the inclusion of a stated element or step or group of elements or steps but not the exclusion of any other element or step or group of elements or steps. Such terms should be interpreted in their most expansive form so as to afford the applicant the broadest coverage legally permissible in countries such as Australia and the like.
The claims set forth in this specification by are hereby incorporated by reference as part of this description of the invention, and the applicant expressly reserves the right to use all of or a portion of such incorporated content of such claims as additional description to support any of or all of the claims or any element or component thereof, and the applicant further expressly reserves the right to move any portion of or all of the incorporated content of such claims or any element or component thereof from the description into the claims or vice-versa as necessary to define the matter for which protection is sought by this application or by any subsequent continuation, division, or continuation-in-part application thereof, or to obtain any benefit of, reduction in fees pursuant to, or to comply with the patent laws, rules, or regulations of any country or treaty, and such content incorporated by reference shall survive during the entire pendency of this application including any subsequent continuation, division, or continuation-in-part application thereof or any reissue or extension thereon.