The sonic screwdriver can turn cells tartan

May 14, 2014
The sonic screwdriver than can turn cells tartan

It's the sort of thing you would expect Dr Who to do – join up someone's damaged nerves by using a sonic screwdriver. But the scientists at the University of Glasgow are no time-travellers and their work is based in a lab – not a Tardis.

Their research, published by the Royal Society of Chemistry's journal Lab on Chip, shows that cell patterning using a specific kind of – a Heptagon Acoustic Tweezer – may soon be in a position to deliver important results.

In the field of tissue engineering, it is important to have accurate control over the positioning of , but previous methodologies for cell patterning have been found to be either inflexible, limited, or cost- and time-intensive.

Now, however, a team of researchers from a range of disciplines in the University – from engineering to biology – have discovered a novel, electronically-controlled method of generating dynamic cell patterns using a portable device based on acoustic force for spatial manipulation of cells and particles.

Dr Anne Bernassau, a Lord Kelvin Adam Smith Fellow in Sensor Systems, explained that using this sonic device, they were able to manipulate cells into complex assemblies – a "cell tartan". In addition, the team were able to demonstrate that this cell tartan could aid neurone alignment, which is a preliminary step towards . Dr Frank Gesellchen, a research associate in , played a key role in the laboratory research.

Dr Mathis Riehle, a reader in the Institute of Molecular Cell and Systems Biology, said the researchers' ambition was to turn what is currently a two-dimensional application into one that is three-dimensional. At that point, he believes it would be possible to create an artificial device containing a person's own cells that could be used to repair more effectively than the current methods of nerve repair tubes or nerve grafts which do not have a high success rate.

Explore further: Horses set to gain health benefits from stem cell advance

More information: "Cell patterning with a heptagon acoustic tweezer – application in neurite guidance." F. Gesellchen, et al. Lab Chip, 2014, Advance Article. DOI: 10.1039/C4LC00436A

Related Stories

Stem cell progeny tell their parents when to turn on

May 9, 2014

( —Stem cells switch off and on, sometimes dividing to produce progeny cells and sometimes resting. But scientists don't fully understand what causes the cells to toggle between active and quiet states.

Recommended for you

Scientists create revolutionary material to clean oil spills

November 30, 2015

Deakin University scientists have manufactured a revolutionary material that can clean up oil spills, which could save the earth from potential future disasters such as any repeat of the 2010 Gulf Coast BP disaster that wreaked ...

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 ...


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.