The cutting (dissection) of cell structures by focused laser radiation is called microdissection. Specifically, laser capture microdissection (LCM) is a method for obtaining subpopulations of tissue cells under direct microscopic view. With LCM technology, cells of interest can be taken directly, or specific cells can be isolated by cutting away unwanted cells. From this, histologically pure, enriched cell populations can be obtained. By using lasers with short pulse durations (<1 ns), the tissue remains largely undamaged, regardless of the cut, allowing further analysis after removal from the microscopic system. The method was historically primarily used for the isolation and subsequent analysis of, for example, cancer cells in molecular pathology. The application is now spreading into many areas of bioanalysis. The biggest advantage of using lasers for this application is the maximum precision and contamination-free operation. Otherwise, contamination of samples would be disadvantageous for subsequent bioanalysis. Chromosomes or other cellular components, life cells, native materials, tissue areas and more can be isolated.
There are a variety of downstream applications: DNA genotyping and loss-of-heterozygosity (LOH) analysis, RNA transcript profiling, cDNA library construction, proteomics discovery, and signaling pathway profiling.