Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Intracellular microlasers could allow precise labeling of a trillion individual cells

30.07.2015

Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) investigators have induced structures incorporated within individual cells to produce laser light. The wavelengths of light emitted by these intracellular microlasers differ based on factors such as the size, shape and composition of each microlaser, allowing precise labeling of individual cells. The researchers' report has received Advance Online Publication in Nature Photonics.

"The fluorescent dyes currently used for research and for medical diagnosis are limited because they emit a very broad spectrum of light," explains Seok Hyun Yun, PhD, of the Wellman Center for Photomedicine at MGH, corresponding author of the report. "As a result, only a handful of dyes can be used at a time, since their spectral signatures would overlap."


Massachusetts General Hospital investigators have induced subcutaneous fat cells in a piece of skin from a pig to emit laser light in response to energy delivered through an optical fiber.

Credit: Matja Humar, Ph.D., and Seok Hyun Yun, Ph.D., Wellman Center for Photomedicine, Massachusetts General Hospital

Lead author Matja Humar, PhD, also of the Wellman Center, adds, "The narrow-band spectrum of light emitted by these intracellular lasers would allow us to label thousands - in principal up to a trillion - of cells individually, and the very specific wavelengths emitted by these microlasers also would allow us to measure small changes happening within a cell with much greater sensitivity than is possible with broadband fluorescence."

Previous studies by Yun's lab demonstrated the first laser based on a living cell, which used fluorescent proteins as the gain medium to amplify the light signal. But this first-generation cellular laser required a laser cavity consisting of a pair of mirrors placed outside the cell to generate laser light. For the current study, Yun and Humar used tiny spherical objects capable of confining light by reflection from their inner surfaces as microcavities for the amplification of laser light within the cavity.

The first versions used droplets of oil - either injected into individual cells or naturally occurring within the fat cells called adipocytes - and showed that either could be induced to emit specific wavelengths of laser light by pumping energy from an external laser into fluorescent dyes diffused into the droplet, a process that produced minimal heating of the cells.

Changes in the shape of the droplet induced by miniscule pressure alterations within the cell altered the spectra of light emitted, and those alterations could be readily measured. Along with showing lasing with a variety of cells - such as cancer cells, fibroblasts, macrophages and adipocytes extracted from the skin of pigs - the researchers also induced adipocytes residing within a piece of porcine skin to emit clearly visible laser light.

Production of laser light within solid plastic fluorescent microbeads, which are readily taken up into cells, resulted in unique signature spectra based on the size and number of beads within a cell and the fluorescent dye used. The investigators calculated that it would be possible to tag individual cells with more than a trillion different laser signatures, a number that matches the estimated number of cells in the human body.

"One immediate application of these intracellular lasers could be basic studies, such as understanding how cells move and respond to external forces," says Yun, an associate professor of Dermatology at Harvard Medical School. "Another challenging step will be figuring out how to use biologically generated energy from mechanical movement or a biochemical reaction to pump a cellular laser in a living body. Cells are smart machines, and we are interested in exploiting their amazing capabilities by developing smart-cell lasers that might be able to find diseases and fire light at them on their own. We can envision lasers completely made out of materials that are safe for use within the human body, which could enable remote sensing within the body or be used in laser-light therapies."

###

Support for the study includes National Science Foundation grants ECCS-14 1101947, EEC-1358296 and ECCS-1505569, National Institutes of Health grant P41 15 EB015903, and Marie Curie International Outgoing Fellowship grant 627274.

Massachusetts General Hospital, founded in 1811, is the original and largest teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School. The MGH conducts the largest hospital-based research program in the United States, with an annual research budget of more than $760 million and major research centers in AIDS, cardiovascular research, cancer, computational and integrative biology, cutaneous biology, human genetics, medical imaging, neurodegenerative disorders, regenerative medicine, reproductive biology, systems biology, transplantation biology and photomedicine. In July 2015, MGH returned into the number one spot on the 2015-16 U.S. News & World Report list of "America's Best Hospitals."

Media Contact

Cassandra Aviles
cmaviles@partners.org
617-724-6433

 @MassGeneralNews

http://www.mgh.harvard.edu 

Cassandra Aviles | EurekAlert!

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Nesting aids make agricultural fields attractive for bees
20.07.2017 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

nachricht The Kitchen Sponge – Breeding Ground for Germs
20.07.2017 | Hochschule Furtwangen

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

Im Focus: On the way to a biological alternative

A bacterial enzyme enables reactions that open up alternatives to key industrial chemical processes

The research team of Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle at the University of Freiburg's Institute of Biochemistry has long been exploring the functioning of nitrogenase....

Im Focus: The 1 trillion tonne iceberg

Larsen C Ice Shelf rift finally breaks through

A one trillion tonne iceberg - one of the biggest ever recorded -- has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica, after a rift in the ice,...

Im Focus: Laser-cooled ions contribute to better understanding of friction

Physics supports biology: Researchers from PTB have developed a model system to investigate friction phenomena with atomic precision

Friction: what you want from car brakes, otherwise rather a nuisance. In any case, it is useful to know as precisely as possible how friction phenomena arise –...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

The technology with a feel for feelings

12.07.2017 | Event News

Leipzig HTP-Forum discusses "hydrothermal processes" as a key technology for a biobased economy

12.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers create new technique for manipulating polarization of terahertz radiation

20.07.2017 | Information Technology

High-tech sensing illuminates concrete stress testing

20.07.2017 | Materials Sciences

First direct observation and measurement of ultra-fast moving vortices in superconductors

20.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>