Magazine article ASEE Prism

Eyeing the Movement of Cells

Magazine article ASEE Prism

Eyeing the Movement of Cells

Article excerpt

At room temperatures, the subatomic particles within cells are always moving, or "jiggling," explains Scot C. Kuo, a biomedical engineer at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. If all that dancing around can be observed and measured, the mechanical properties of the material that cell comes from can be deduced, which can help our understanding of how cells move and control their shapes.

That was Kuo's claim in a paper published three years ago. Now, he and colleague James L. McGrath have created an optical microscope with a built-in laser that proves his point. The microscope is a natural follow-up to the optical tweezers that Kuo invented in 1993, which use lasers to move particles.

In a tour-de-force test of the device, Kuo and McGrath made unexpected new findings on how the bacteria-Listeria monocytogenes, a common source of food poisoning-maneuver from one host cell to another. …

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