Distinguishing cancer cells based on their biophysical signatures Changes in cell shape and structural integrity affect many biological processes related to cells. Therefore, we can potentially use the biophysical properties of cells to reflect the state of their health. This connection between the biophysics and diseases has been attracting scientific research attention, especially for cancer research, where diseased cells proliferate uncontrollably and disrupt the organization of tissue. Here, we target a reliable and practical high-throughput technique to obtain the biophysical signature of cancer cells. We take two parallel approaches to achieve this goal. We use MEMS grippers (i.e., Silicon NanoTweezers) that provide higher sensitivity to examine different biophysical properties (e.g., size, stiffness, viscosity, and electrical properties). In parallel, we are developing a high-throughput MEMS device optimized according to the SNT results for clinical applications.
Monitoring immunological synapses at single cell level in a microfluidic device We develop a microfluidic device for trapping cell-pairs to monitor cellular communication. The proposed method allows cell positioning at designated areas to make selective contact between two different populations despite dimensional variations. An array of trapping sites with specific geometries provided higher efficiency, and integrating the setup with an incubation unit allows long-term (>4 hours) experiments under a controlled environment. The device is used to monitor the cellular activity of patient immune and leukemic cells via Ca2+ signalling by fluorescence microscopy.
Mechanoblast: impedance flow cytometry to analyse blast cells heterogeneity Acute myeloid leukemia is a highly heterogeneous disease. Persistent leukemia cells, besides being scarce, are resistant to treatments and cause late relapse that leads to poor survival of patients. Deep sequencing by NGS allows identification of these residual cells but their detection is still technically challenging due to the lack of phenotypic markers. Biophysical cell characterization is a promising approach as biophysical properties change depending on disease progression. We developed a microfluidic channel with microelectrodes to obtain high-throughput detection using electrical signals without any optical elements.