A revolutionary technology to study cell nanomechanics

phys.org | 9/12/2019 | Staff
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Researchers at Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART) and MIT's Laser Biomedical Research Center (LBRC) have developed a new way to study cells, paving the way for a better understanding of how cancers spread and become killers.

The new technology was explained in a paper titled "Studying nucleic envelope and plasma membrane mechanics of eukaryotic cells using confocal reflectance interferometric microscopy," which was published in the prestigious academic journal, Nature Communications. The new confocal reflectance interferometric microscope provides 1.5 microns depth resolution and better than 200 picometers height measurement sensitivity for high-speed characterization of nanometer scale nucleic envelope and plasma membrane fluctuations in biological cells. It enables researchers to use these fluctuations to understand key biological questions such as the role of nuclear stiffness in cancer metastasis and genetic diseases.

Methods - Mechanics - Manipulation - Stretching - Probes

"Current methods for nuclear mechanics are invasive as they either require mechanical manipulation such as stretching or require injecting fluorescent probes that 'light up' the nucleus to observe its shape. Both these approaches would undesirably change cell's intrinsic properties, limiting study of cellular mechanisms, disease diagnosis, and cell-based therapies," said Dr. Vijay Raj Singh, SMART Research Scientist and Dr. Zahid Yaqoob, MIT LBRC Principal Investigator. "With the confocal reflectance interferometric microscope, we can study nuclear mechanics of biological cells without affecting their native properties."

While the scientists can study about a hundred cells in a few minutes, they believe that the system can be upgraded in the future to improve the throughput to tens of thousands of cells.

Today - Disease - Mechanisms - Way

"Today, many disease mechanisms are not fully understood because we lack a way to look at how...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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