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A 'fat forward' research tool
Date:5/6/2010

Anglers rely on fish finders to help them locate the big catch. Now Tel Aviv University researchers in tissue engineering have developed a "fat finder" that can help scientists accelerate their research into new fat-melting drugs.

The new software-based tool, reported in a recent issue of the journal Tissue Engineering, fits onto a microscope like a pair of goggles and allows a scientist to measure a broad number of physical parameters in the Petri dish while investigating fat cells. They might explore how fat cells change when given insulin, or how they react when treated with new experimental drug compounds. Normally these kinds of questions need to be investigated with intensive pre-clinical and clinical trials an expensive and time-consuming process.

With the tool he invented, Prof. Amit Gefen of Tel Aviv University's Faculty of Engineering is able to address these questions at the cellular level by looking at individual fat cells to see what happens to them under experimental conditions. The tool allows scientists to see and assess quickly what is happening to each cell, and how individual cells change over time. Until now, fat tissues were studied as a whole, with little knowledge as to how cells react one by one. But a look at individual cells gives clues about the toxicity or effectiveness of a treatment almost immediately.

Cell squats and push-ups

Prof. Gefen's new research looks at lab-engineered fat cells. "Good for studying fat, the 'fat finder' is also a general purpose tool. It can save researchers time and money and help them answer questions in basic research and drug design," he says.

Prof. Gefen's tool gives scientists the ability to accurately measure what happens in live cell cultures over time. Equipped with algorithms to measure baseline cellular activity and compare it to how cells being experimented on behave, his device helps understand how fat tissue develops, so th
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Contact: George Hunka
ghunka@aftau.org
212-742-9070
American Friends of Tel Aviv University
Source:Eurekalert  

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