Team develops new method for filming the release of medicine inside cells

April 27, 2012

Researchers at the University of Twente (The Netherlands) have developed a method to allow them to watch close-up how medicines are released in cells and to monitor their absorption at the level of individual cells. The method makes use of the fastest camera in the world, which can film at a rate of 25 million images per second. This new method is an important step forward for research into how medicines could be directed to a specific part of the body using microscopic bubbles.

There are various ways in which medicine can be taken – orally, in an injection or through a drip, for example. In all these methods, it is the blood that takes the medicine to its ultimate destination – such as the site of an infection or tumour. But of course, the blood takes the medicine all around the body indiscriminately, which can actually lead to damage elsewhere. The drugs used in chemotherapy, for example, attack both healthy and tumour cells.

So the University of Twente has been working on new methods for targeting medicines on very specific sites in the body. One of these methods involves using containing medicine. When these bubbles are injected into the patient’s bloodstream, they can be activated using ultrasound when they reach a specific part of the body (such as the site of a tumour). The vibrations cause the bubbles to release the medicine, which can also be absorbed more easily by the cells because the bubbles can actually pass through tiny holes in the cell walls.

This method of administering medicine has considerable potential, but more research is still required. One limiting factor has been that – until now – it was not possible to see how medicines were being absorbed, simply because the whole process happened too quickly and the bubbles were too small to see using normal microscopes. This is why researchers of the University of Twente’s Physics of Fluids research group, together with researchers from the Erasmus MC, set out to develop a new method for viewing the of medicines at the cellular level. The , which has been dubbed ‘ultra-high-speed fluorescence microscopy’, makes use of the Brandaris 128 camera – which was also developed at Twente. The camera can film at a speed of at least 25 million per second, making it the fastest camera in the world. Various other clever adaptations have made this not only the fastest camera in the world, but also one of the most sensitive of its kind.

Explore further: Photoacoustics useful in cancer research

More information: Erik Gelderblom of the Faculty of Science and Technology defended his PhD thesis on this subject on Friday 20 April.

Related Stories

Photoacoustics useful in cancer research

December 5, 2008

( -- Photoacoustics can be used to show the development of blood capillaries in and around a tumour. PhD student, Kiran Kumar Thumma, of the University of Twente (Netherlands) is the first to use the technology ...

The shell makes the difference

April 12, 2010

( -- Contrast echography is a commonly used medical imaging technique that is used to show up abnormal blood circulation in organs and tumours. The method makes use of ultrasound and a contrast agent containing ...

Bursting bubbles with sound offers new treatments for cancer

June 28, 2010

A new way to deliver cancer drugs using gas bubbles and sound waves is to be developed at the University of Leeds. The project will enable highly toxic drugs to be delivered in small doses directly to tumours, where their ...

Spontaneous combustion in nanobubbles

September 28, 2011

( -- Nanometer-sized bubbles containing the gases hydrogen and oxygen can apparently combust spontaneously, although nothing happens in larger bubbles. For the first time, researchers at the University of Twente’s ...

Recommended for you

A new form of real gold, almost as light as air

November 25, 2015

Researchers at ETH Zurich have created a new type of foam made of real gold. It is the lightest form ever produced of the precious metal: a thousand times lighter than its conventional form and yet it is nearly impossible ...

Getting under the skin of a medieval mystery

November 23, 2015

A simple PVC eraser has helped an international team of scientists led by bioarchaeologists at the University of York to resolve the mystery surrounding the tissue-thin parchment used by medieval scribes to produce the first ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.