Innovative microscope to fight against disease
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Innovative microscope to fight against disease

Ireland-based start-up SiriusXT is in the final stages of developing an innovative new X-ray microscope which is expected to prove a powerful tool in the fight against disease.

Set for commercial release at the end of next year, the patented SXT-100 utilises a light source which allows researchers to illuminate cells and tissue samples, and to produce 3D images in a way which was not previously possible in a laboratory setting.

“We are targeting an addressable global market of €1bn and have identified 3,000 research organisations around the world which we can sell to,” said chief executive Tony McEnroe, one of SiriusXT’s co-founders.

The potential users of SXT-100 include cancer researchers, scientists who are studying degenerative diseases — such as Huntington’s and Alzheimer’s — and pharmaceutical companies which can use the high resolution 3D cell images to observe the efficacy of drugs.

McEnroe said that this microscope is unique because of the manner in which the X-ray illumination is generated.

He added: “It focuses a powerful laser on to a metal target to make a little fireball as hot as the centre of the Sun and about a tenth of the width of a human hair in diameter, from which the x-rays are released.”

He said that up until now this type of light source could only be created in football stadium-sized facilities which cost over €250m.

McEnroe believes that the wider availability of a research tool which creates high-resolution images of biological cells will help researchers get a better understanding of the causes of cancer and other illnesses and will also help pharmaceutical companies to create effective cures for a range of diseases.