Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Scientific Community
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article

New Imaging Technology Could Reveal Cellular Secrets

Published: Friday, April 26, 2013
Last Updated: Friday, April 26, 2013
Bookmark and Share
Researchers have married two biological imaging technologies, creating a new way to learn how good cells go bad.

"Let's say you have a large population of cells," said Corey Neu, an assistant professor in Purdue University's Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering. "Just one of them might metastasize or proliferate, forming a cancerous tumor. We need to understand what it is that gives rise to that one bad cell."

Such an advance makes it possible to simultaneously study the mechanical and biochemical behavior of cells, which could provide new insights into disease processes, said biomedical engineering postdoctoral fellow Charilaos "Harris" Mousoulis.

Being able to study a cell's internal workings in fine detail would likely yield insights into the physical and biochemical responses to its environment. The technology, which combines an atomic force microscope and nuclear magnetic resonance system, could help researchers study individual cancer cells, for example, to uncover mechanisms leading up to cancer metastasis for research and diagnostics.

The prototype's capabilities were demonstrated by taking nuclear magnetic resonance spectra of hydrogen atoms in water. Findings represent a proof of concept of the technology and are detailed in a research paper that appeared online April 11 in the journal Applied Physics Letters. The paper was co-authored by Mousoulis; research scientist Teimour Maleki; Babak Ziaie, a professor of electrical and computer engineering; and Neu.

"You could detect many different types of chemical elements, but in this case hydrogen is nice to detect because it's abundant," Neu said. "You could detect carbon, nitrogen and other elements to get more detailed information about specific biochemistry inside a cell."

An atomic force microscope (AFM) uses a tiny vibrating probe called a cantilever to yield information about materials and surfaces on the scale of nanometers, or billionths of a meter. Because the instrument enables scientists to "see" objects far smaller than possible using light microscopes, it could be ideal for studying molecules, cell membranes and other biological structures.

However, the AFM does not provide information about the biological and chemical properties of cells. So the researchers fabricated a metal microcoil on the AFM cantilever. An electrical current is passed though the coil, causing it to exchange electromagnetic radiation with protons in molecules within the cell and inducing another current in the coil, which is detected.

The Purdue researchers perform "mechanobiology" studies to learn how forces exerted on cells influence their behavior. In work focusing on osteoarthritis, their research includes the study of cartilage cells from the knee to learn how they interact with the complex matrix of structures and biochemistry between cells.

Future research might include studying cells in "microfluidic chambers" to test how they respond to specific drugs and environmental changes.

Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,800+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 4,000+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters

Sign In

Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Mass Spectrometry Tool Helps Guide Brain Cancer Surgery
A tool to help brain surgeons test and more precisely remove cancerous tissue was successfully used during surgery, according to a Purdue University and Brigham and Women's Hospital study.
Wednesday, July 02, 2014
Helping Genes Get Out of the Starting Blocks Faster
Yeast can quickly adapt to changes in its environment with the help of molecules known as long non-coding RNAs, a Purdue study shows.
Friday, February 21, 2014
Cell-Detection System Promising for Medical Research, Diagnostics
Researchers are developing a system that uses tiny magnetic beads to quickly detect rare types of cancer cells circulating in a patient's blood.
Thursday, October 03, 2013
Purdue Innovation could Improve Personalized Cancer-Care Outcomes
An innovation could improve therapy selection for personalized cancer care by helping specialists better identify the most effective drug treatment combinations for patients.
Friday, August 16, 2013
Nanoparticles, 'pH Phoresis' Could Improve Cancer Drug Delivery
Researchers have developed a concept to potentially improve delivery of drugs for cancer treatment using nanoparticles.
Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Yeast Study Yields Potential for New Cholesterol, Anti-Fungal Drugs
While studying a mutant strain of yeast, Purdue University researchers may have found a new target for drugs to combat cholesterol and fungal diseases.
Thursday, February 28, 2013
Gene's function May Give New Target for Cancer Drugs
Scientists have determined that a gene long known to be involved in cancer cell formation and chemotherapy resistance is key to proper RNA creation, and could one day lead to new therapies and drug targets.
Thursday, September 13, 2012
Imaging Tool Tracks Carbon Nanotubes in Living Cells
Researchers have demonstrated a new imaging tool for tracking structures called carbon nanotubes in living cells and the bloodstream, which could aid efforts to perfect their use in biomedical research and clinical medicine.
Thursday, December 08, 2011
Genome Sequencing Speeds Ability to Improve Soybeans
Purdue researchers are sequencing the soybean genome to better understand its genes and to improve its characteristics.
Friday, January 15, 2010
Scientific News
Exploring the Causes of Cancer
Queen's research to understand the regulation of a cell surface protein involved in cancer.
Ancient Viral Molecules Essential for Human Development
Genetic material from ancient viral infections is critical to human development, according to researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.
Tardigrade's Are DNA Master Thieves
Tardigrades, nearly microscopic animals that can survive the harshest of environments, including outer space, hold the record for the animal that has the most foreign DNA.
The Secret Behind the Power of Bacterial Sex
Migration between different communities of bacteria is the key to the type of gene transfer that can lead to the spread of traits such as antibiotic resistance, according to researchers at Oxford University.
Farming’s in Their DNA
Ancient genomes reveal natural selection in action.
GMO Food Animals Should be Judged by Product, Not Process
In a world with a burgeoning demand for meat, milk and eggs, regulatory policies around the use of biotechnologies in agriculture need to be based on the safety and attributes of those foods rather than on the methods used to produce them, says a UC Davis animal scientist.
Enzyme Critical to Maintaining Telomere Length Discovered
New method expected to speed understanding of short telomere diseases and cancer.
Gene Drive Reversibility Introduces New Layer of Biosafety
Ability to introduce or reverse the spread of genetic traits through populations could one day improve pest management and disease control.
RNA-Based Drugs Give More Control Over Gene Editing
CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing technique can be transiently activated and inactivated using RNA-based drugs, giving researchers more precise control in correcting and inactivating genes.
University of Glasgow Researchers Make An Impact in 60 Seconds
Early-career researchers were invited to submit an engaging, dynamic and compelling 60 second video illuminating an aspect of their research.
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,800+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,000+ scientific videos