Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Expanding Cell Girth

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Expanding Cell Girth

Article excerpt

How fat cells become after being exposed to a specialized electrical field is helping researchers determine whether cells are normal, cancerous, or a stage of cancer already invading other parts of the body.

Purdue University scientists tested the electrical process and found cells that expanded the most were metastatic cancer, the term used when the disease has spread beyond its point of origin. The technique allows screening of single cells 300 times faster--five cells per second compared with the one cell per minute of previous methods, says Chang Lu, an assistant professor of agricultural and biological engineering and senior author of the study, which is published in the journal Analytic Chemistry. This rapid cell inspection permits testing of enough cells for diagnosis and determination of the disease's level, he says.

"If you look at the properties of only a few cells, it would be a stretch to say they exactly represent a tissue cell population since tissues have tens of thousands of cells," Lu says. "Our goal is to have a tool so that we can reputably look at large numbers of cells and obtain information about their biomechanical properties. …

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