The UBC device – about the size of a nine-volt battery – allows scientists to simultaneously analyze 300 cells individually by routing fluid carrying cells through microscopic tubes and valves. Once isolated into their separate chambers, the cells’ RNA can be extracted and replicated for further analysis.
By enabling such “single-cell analysis,” the device could accelerate genetic research and hasten the use of far more detailed tests for diagnosing cancer.
Single-cell analysis is emerging as the gold standard of genetic research because tissue samples, even those taken from a single tumour, contain a mixture of normal cells and various types of cancer cells – the most important of which may be present in only very small numbers and impossible to distinguish.
So standard genetic tests, which require large numbers of cells, capture only an average “composite picture” of thousands or millions of different cells – obscuring their true nature and the interactions between them.
“It’s like trying to trying to understand what makes a strawberry different from a raspberry by studying a blended fruit smoothie,” says Carl Hansen, an assistant professor in the Dept. of Physics and Astronomy and the Centre for High-Throughput Biology, who led the team that developed the device.
The device, described and validated in this week’s issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was developed by Hansen’s team, in collaboration with researchers from BC Cancer Agency and the Centre for Translational and Applied Genomics.
The device’s ease of use and cost-effectiveness arise from its integration of almost the entire process of cell analysis – not just separating the cells, but mixing them with chemical reagents to highlight their genetic code and analyzing the results by measuring fluorescent light emitted from the reaction. Now all of that can be done on the chip.
“Single-cell genetic analysis is vital in a host of areas, including stem cell research and advanced cancer biology and diagnostics,” Hansen says. “But until now, it has been too costly to become widespread in research, and especially for use in health care. This technology, and other approaches like it, could radically change the way we do both basic and applied biomedical research, and would make single-cell analysis a more plausible option for treating patients – allowing clinicians to distinguish various cancers from one another and tailor their treatments accordingly.”
The research was funded by Genome BC, Genome Canada, Western Economic Diversification Canada, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Terry Fox Foundation, and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council.
Brian Kladko | EurekAlert!
Symbiotic bacteria: from hitchhiker to beetle bodyguard
28.04.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis
28.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Grenzflächen- und Bioverfahrenstechnik IGB
More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.
Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...
Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.
"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
28.04.2017 | Event News
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering
28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences
28.04.2017 | Life Sciences