Swedish scientists have developed a new method to study how individual cells react to different conditions. By using lasers to move cells between different streams of fluid of varied consistency, temperature, and other characteristics, one can look at the precise effects those environments have on cells.
From the University of Gothenburg:
Placing the cell in a system of channels made of silicone, in which each channel is finer than a human hair, enables the researchers to add and remove substances so that the environment surrounding a single cell changes in a split second – while at the same time watching the reactions through a microscope.
The channels in the so-called microfluidic system can be likened to tiny water pipes. In a channel, a single cell can be exposed to tests and various substances for very exact time periods, which enables the researchers to repeatedly add and remove a substance to see how it affects the behaviour of the cell. This new method gives researchers information that would not be possible to obtain with traditional methods.
In its first stage, the new method has been tested on yeast cells. One of the cells’ proteins was tagged with a green fluorescent protein (GFP), enabling researchers to trace the movements of the protein within the cell while it adjusts to a new environment.
Press release: Using high-precision laser tweezers to juggle cells
(hat tip: The Engineer Online)