A team of MIT researchers has devised a method for moving cells around using the power of sound - here's how they did it.
Researchers from MIT, Penn State, and Carnegie Mellon University have made a huge breakthrough. According to a report from Phys.org, scientists have devised a new method for moving individual cells around in three different dimensions – all using the power of sound waves. The development could have huge implications in the field of bioengineering and beyond.
According to professor Tony Jun Huang, the Huck Distinguished Chair in Bioengineering Science and Mechanics, the method employs surface acoustic waves that generate nodes, which can trap cells or other tiny particles. By manipulating these waves, scientists were able to move the object around in three dimensions and even create structures.
Two separate surface acoustic waves are generated to form the nodes that trap cells or other mini particles. As the waves from the opposite sides meet, they generate a force that traps and positions a cell. By manipulating the meeting point between these two sound waves, scientists can position a cell in two dimensions. By manipulating the amplitude of the acoustic waves, the third dimension can be controlled as well.
The study’s findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. According to team member Subra Suresh from Carnegie Mellon, “The results presented in this paper provide a unique pathway to manipulate biological cells, accurately and in three dimensions without the need for any invasive contact, tagging, or biochemical labeling. This approach could lead to new possibilities for research and applications in such areas as regenerative medicine, neuroscience, tissue engineering, biomanufacturing, and cancer metastasis.”
In addition to using sound waves to position cells or other tiny particles, the scientists also used the device to engage in modeled bioprinting. This allows them to specifically recreate organic materials while still preserving the cell’s ability to communicate and interact with other surrounding cells. Not a traditional 3-D printer, the device can assemble cells and other materials like a Lego set.
“3-D acoustic tweezers can pattern cells with control over the number of cells, cell spacing and the confined geometry, which may offer a unique way to print neuron cells to create artificial neural networks for neuron science applications or regenerative neuron medicine,” said Huang.
A press release from MIT describing the details of the recent study can be found here.