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When cells hit the wall: UCLA engineers put the squeeze on cells to diagnose disease
Date:5/1/2012

e cells of interest could take hours or even days. With the deformability cytometer, the group can prepare samples and conduct an analysis of tens of thousands of cells within 10 to 30 minutes.

"Our system makes use of an approach that (U.S. Secretary of Energy) Steven Chu used to stretch DNA to, instead, stretch cells," Di Carlo said. "This required us to engineer the fluid dynamics of the system such that cells always entered the stretching flow in the same place, making use of inertial focusing technology my group has been pioneering."

With a system in place to measure the physical properties of cells at much higher rates, the bioengineers teamed up with collaborators across the UCLA campus to measure various cell populations of interest to biologists and doctors.

Along with UCLA stem cell biologist Amander Clark, an assistant professor of of molecular, cellular and developmental biology, Di Carlo's team confirmed that stem cells that have the capability to become any tissue type stretch much less than their progeny, which are already in the process of becoming a particular tissue.

In collaboration with cytopathologist Dr. Jian Yu Rao, a professor of pathlogy and laboratory medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, the team accurately detected cancer cells from pleural fluids using the high-speed deformability cytometer. Pleural fluid, which builds up around the lungs, is traditionally challenging to analyze because it contains a mixture of cell types including immune cells, mesothelial cells from the chest wall lining and, potentially, low concentrations of cancer cells.

"The main problem for the diagnosis is that with cytomorphology alone, it can be difficult to distinguish mon-malignant mesothelial cells that are reactive to conditions such as inflammation, infection and injury from metastatic cancer cells or malignant mesothelial cells," Rao said. "So this technique has tremendous clinical uti
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Contact: Wileen Wong Kromhout
wwkromhout@support.ucla.edu
310-206-0540
University of California - Los Angeles
Source:Eurekalert

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