Sound waves to be used for corralling cells

Sound wave

Sound waves are being used as an interesting technique by Monash researchers for corralling single cells. This staple method is used for single cell analysis in life sciences. As populations...

Sound waves are being used as an interesting technique by Monash researchers for corralling single cells.

This staple method is used for single cell analysis in life sciences. As populations can be very diverse, it helps in life research.

“We’ve developed a system that holds cells in a regular pattern, which is necessary to understand behavior over time.” Associate Professor Adrian Neild (Department of Mechanical Engineering) said.

This new technique allows researchers to hold the cells individually as each valley is small enough so there is only enough space for a single cell to fit.

“Information can not only be gathered about each cell individually, but there are enough cells to give us a population of individual cells which can yield statistical data”, he said.

Researchers at Monash established a technique to cause the cells to be pushed to the potential minima of an ultrasonic force.

“The way to visualise this ‘potential minima’ is to imagine an undulating landscape. Effectively we have a series of round valleys, and the cells roll to the bottom of each.”

“We do two things in designing these valleys. Firstly, we make them align in two directions,” Said Associate Professor Neild.

This is to ensure that there is only enough space in each valley for a single cell, so that the cells can be held individually.

The valleys are created by exciting the fluid that contains the cells with ultrasound which ultimately causes ultrasonic standing waves to form. This system allows researchers to view the cell without causing it damage.

Professor Magdalena Plebanski (Department of Immunology) discussed how the research came about and “It began as an inter Faculty collaboration (medicine and engineering), and is a testament to the synergy of cross-disciplinary team work.”

The two different cells, lymphocytes and red blood cells, were infected with the malarial parasite in order to determine whether this technique could be used universally in the future.