Force cytometry, or measurement of strength of cells, can be a useful indicator for assessing how specific drugs affect cell function. Rapidly performing thousands of force cytometry tests can help speed up drug testing, particularly for compounds intended to treat blood pressure, stroke, muscular dystrophy, and asthma. Scientists at UCLA and Rutgers University have now reported in journal Nature Biomedical Engineering on a new device that can perform force cytometry tests 100 times faster than existing technologies.
The team’s device is named fluorescently labeled elastomeric contractible surfaces (FLECS) and it relies on a flexible plate that has many thousands of micropatterned crosses made of proteins on its surface. The proteins are sticky to live cells, making it easy to place large quantities of cells in a well arranged matrix. Each of the crosses is elastic, changing shape along with contractions of the cells. In order to see how much each cross folds, and therefore measure the cell’s contractions, a fluorescent molecular marker is contained within each cross.
The entire device works in unison, providing assessment of more than 100,000 cells in a matter of minutes.
In order to allow different pairs of drugs and cells to be tested, the individual crosses on the flexible plate can be made to accommodate different possibilities through etching different shapes and adding different chemical compounds.
“Our tool tracks how much force individual cells exert over time, and how they react when they are exposed to different compounds or drugs,” said one of the study leads Dino Di Carlo, professor of bioengineering at UCLA. “It’s like a microscopic fitness test for cells with thousands of parallel stations.”
In this short video you can see how one of the crosses behaves:
Study in Nature Biomedical Engineering: Elastomeric sensor surfaces for high-throughput single-cell force cytometry…