April 29, 2010

Super-Small Sensor Weighs Individual Cells, Casting Light on Growth Process

Scientists at MIT and Harvard have developed a super-small sensor that can weigh individual cells. The cell-mass sensor was released in 2007. The team at the two universities tested four types of cells, two strains of bacteria, one strain of yeast and one sample of mammalian lymphoblasts (mammalian lymph cell). They test their growth within the time range of 5 to 30 minutes. The unit it self is a microchip that vibrates. When a cell enters the testing area, its weight will change the frequency of the chip and scientists can calculate the cell’s weight with the difference in frequency. The cell enters the microchip through a tiny channel that allows cells to go in single-file. This research can tell scientists how cells grow. That information can be implemented to cancer and we can see how a cancer cell grows and spreads in the body. The scientists want this technology because the currently do not know why cells like E. coli (pictured below) grow at uneven rates. I think that if we can measure individual cells now, what technology can do in the future! Because of this sensor, cancer can be eliminated in a few years.