Finding could lead to advance in nano-surgery

Nov 25, 2008 By Miranda Marquit feature
Atmospheric plasma jet. Image: George Washington University

(PhysOrg.com) -- One of the problems with laser surgery is that the heat produced can damage tissue, and even lead to cell death. Attempts are being made to replace laser surgery with non-thermal plasma interaction, potentially allowing for the possibility of single cell removal without affecting the surrounding cells and tissue. While this specific use is for the future, important steps are being taken now to further study the interaction between non-thermal atmospheric (room temperature) plasma and living tissue.

A group at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. is studying the effects of using a cold plasma atmospheric jet on tissue using fibroblast cells. “We were able to see several effects without damage to the tissue,” Michael Keidar, a member of the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department, and one of the scientists on the project, tells PhysOrg.com. The results of the experiment can be found in Applied Physics Letters: “Living tissue under treatment of cold plasma atmospheric jet.”

Fibroblast cell culture after treatment with plasma jet indicating presence of plasma induced voids. Images: George Washington University

“Our experiment was set up to observe the cell migration effect,” says Mary Ann Stepp, from the Deptartment of Anatomy and Regenerative Biology and of Ophthalmology, another team member. “We observed the plasma interaction, allowing cells to sit in a culture dish taking photos about every ten minutes. We could then observe the photos together and see a time -lapse movie that shows us how the cell is moving.”

The GWU team discovered that when the intensity of the jet was altered, there were different effects. Alexey Shashurin (also a member of the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department), points out that as the intensity of the jet increased, a cell migration rate was slowed and then a cell detached from its protein matrix. “Finally, when you increase the intensity even more,” he continues, you find that the cell becomes somewhat frozen. Its movement basically stops.”

Right now, the plasma jets are not small enough to do work on the level of individual cells. Shashurin explains: “At some point, though, we’d like to refine the technique and go to micro and nanoscale size plasma sources. We’d like this to be useful on the nanoscale.”

However, there are some implications from the present efforts. At The George Washington University, the team has shown how that certain processes can be triggered in cells, and there are potential applications if more can be learned about how cells work when reacting with this atmospheric plasma. Stepp says that studying cell movement, as illustrated by this experiment, can be of benefit in wound healing studies. “Being able to control the rate of cell migration could enhance wound healing – or even inhibit it, if that is what’s needed.”

Keidar admits that right now things are at an early stage. “We’ve observed this cell migration, and this cell freezing,” he says, “but we don’t understand completely the mechanism that the plasma jet is triggering. And we need to understand the plasma itself; we are looking at how we can change different plasma properties to control plasma-cell interactions.”

The members of the GWU group are looking forward to the future, however. Stepp points out that they are working on ways to narrow the treatment zone to reach the goal of single cell extraction: “Even though we still need to do some more studies, we have already discovered that this is an exciting new tool for biotechnology.”

More information:

Keidar’s Laboratory website: cobweb.seas.gwu.edu/~mpnl/
Stepp’s Laboratory website: www.gwumc.edu/anatomy/mastepp.html

Shashurin, Keidar, Bronnikov, Jurjus, and Stepp. “Living tissue under treatment of cold plasma atmospheric jet.” Applied Physics Letters (2008). Available online:
link.aip.org/link/?APPLAB/93/181501/1.

Copyright 2007 PhysOrg.com.
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or part without the express written permission of PhysOrg.com.

Explore further: X-rays probe LHC for cause of short circuit

Related Stories

Scientists develop cool process to make better graphene

Mar 18, 2015

A new technique invented at Caltech to produce graphene—a material made up of an atom-thick layer of carbon—at room temperature could help pave the way for commercially feasible graphene-based solar cells ...

Researchers enable solar cells to use more sunlight

Feb 25, 2015

Scientists of the University of Luxembourg and of the Japanese electronics company TDK report progress in photovoltaic research: they have improved a component that will enable solar cells to use more energy of the sun and ...

Peering into cosmic magnetic fields

Jan 22, 2015

The generation of cosmic magnetic fields has long intrigued astrophysicists. Since it was first described in 1959, a phenomenon known as Weibel filamentation instability—a plasma instability present in ...

Recommended for you

Super sensitive measurement of magnetic fields

17 hours ago

There are electrical signals in the nervous system, the brain and throughout the human body and there are tiny magnetic fields associated with these signals that could be important for medical science. Researchers ...

New idea for Dyson sphere proposed

18 hours ago

(Phys.org)—A pair of Turkish space scientists with Bogazici University has proposed that researchers looking for the existence of Dyson spheres might be looking at the wrong objects. İbrahim Semiz and ...

Turning back time by controlling magnetic interactions

19 hours ago

In many materials, macroscopic magnetic properties emerge when microscopically small magnets align in a fixed pattern throughout the whole solid. In a publication in Nature Communications, Johan Mentink, Karste ...

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Mercury_01
not rated yet Nov 25, 2008
This is very similar to the technology being used to mutilate those cows. Cauterization without carbonization, and tissue- specific cutting.
TJ_alberta
3 / 5 (1) Nov 26, 2008
plasma as ionized atoms or plasma as the liquid phase of blood after centrifugation?

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.