The findings will be presented by lead researcher Ingrid Wilke, assistant professor of physics at Rensselaer, at the World of Photonics Congress in Munich, Germany on June 20, 2007. The research originally appeared in the April 2007 edition of Physical Review E.
Human illness begins and advances at the cellular level. Understanding how materials like proteins or drug ingredients affect an individual cell can give researchers important insight into how that material might impact the entire human body, according to Wilke. This makes discoveries at the cellular level extremely important.
The new findings could serve as a set of guidelines for future research that requires precise microinjection of live single cells. Such research ranges from testing drugs for toxicity to targeting tumor cells with chemotherapy.
“The technique will allow researchers to use unprecedented precision to microinject cells or even perform nanosurgery on cells,” Wilke said.
“The problem with previous methods of single-cell injection was low cell viability and low efficacy,” Wilke said. Other physical microinjection methods are greatly hindered in living cells by the natural protective shield encasing mammalian cells. Breaking through this strong, microscopic fortress while still keeping the cell alive and undamaged has proven extremely difficult.
The researchers used tightly focused femtosecond laser beam pulses that created a pore or opening in the cellular wall of living cells and encouraged the cell to take in different molecules. The laser beam serves as a “needle” that punctures the protective skin around the cell, encouraging the cell to take up the material surrounding it. In this case, the researchers used a yellow iodine dye as their nanoscale “vaccine” so the injection results could be easily viewed in microscopic images.
A femtosecond is one billionth of one millionth of a second. The pulse from a femtosecond laser is so fast that it appears as a constant beam of light to the naked eye. The lasers emit radiation in the near-infrared (NIR) portion of the spectrum, meaning that the wavelength is too long to be seen by human eyes.
Upon analysis, the femtosecond NIR lasers were found to preserve the integrity of the cells, Wilke said. But only up to a certain intensity.
“The connections between laser intensity and the rate of injection had not been previously explored in-depth,” Wilke said. “We found that the size of the pores was highly dependent on the intensity of the laser. By modifying the strength of the laser, we could encourage the cell to uptake as little or as much of the materials as we desired. We also determined the intensity at which the cell could first be permeated and the level at which to would be disintegrated.”
The researchers first microinjected living bovine aortic cells. They were able to create different sized pores within the cells that would remain open while the laser continued to pulse and close after the laser beam was stopped.
They later expanded the experiment to include clam eggs (Spisula solidissima oocytes). This form of microinjection is particularly important for cells that are resistant to any other forms of physical microinjection due to an extremely tough cellular membrane, Wilke said. The team also was able to microinject the clam eggs using the femtosecond NIR pulses.
The research discovered that cells were permeated at laser intensities of 4 terawatts per square centimeter. The pore size grew larger as the intensity increased. When the intensity reached more than 35 terawatts per square centimeter, the cellular structure disintegrated and the cell was no longer viable.
“For the first time, we have shown a relationship between pore characteristics and laser beam intensity,” Wilke said. This level of control has not been previously quantified and Wilke says it will allow better regulation of the concentrations of molecules injected into cells.
Gabrielle DeMarco | EurekAlert!
First chip-scale broadband optical system that can sense molecules in the mid-IR
24.05.2018 | Columbia University School of Engineering and Applied Science
Nuclear physicists leap into quantum computing with first simulations of atomic nucleus
24.05.2018 | DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory
A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.
The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...
At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.
At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...
There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?
At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...
So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics
Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...
The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...
02.05.2018 | Event News
13.04.2018 | Event News
12.04.2018 | Event News
24.05.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
24.05.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering
24.05.2018 | Materials Sciences