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New nano device detects immune system cell signaling
Date:9/3/2008

gical function for this signal would be to attract T-cells to dendritic cells that have important information to give them. This supposition is strengthened by the observation that immature dendritic cells don't produce this factor but mature immunogenic dendritic cells those that have encountered a pathogen or danger signal do.

When Faley tried to duplicate this result using standard immunological techniques, however, the result was negative. The standard method consists of growing a culture of dendritic cells in a culture flask, adding T-cells and looking for a reaction. If the cell density is too great, the cells begin poisoning each other, run out of food and die. So the standard practice is to keep the density at a low enough level that the cells remain healthy when the cell media is changed daily.

"This represents a dilution factor of 100 compared to the nanophysiometer," says Wikswo. "So the factor produced by the dendritic cells was too dilute to activate the T-cells." It wasn't until Faley redid the standard test with cell densities 10 times higher than normal that she got the T-cells to activate.

"This represents one of the advantages of the nanophysiometer; it suspends cells in extremely small volumes that are much closer to what they experience in the body and uses slow fluid flow to keep the cells alive," Wikswo says.

Not only is this capability important in improving our knowledge of how the immune system works, but it may also be the key to understanding why the system fails, as it does in cases like cancer and HIV/AIDS, says Dana Marshall, associate professor at the Meharry Medical College. She and the Wikswo group have submitted a proposal to use the technique to study triple-negative breast tumors, one of the most deadly forms of breast cancer.

"The ability to look at the signaling among cancer cells and immune cells is extremely powerful," Marshall says. "According to the evidence, the immune system tr
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Contact: David F. Salisbury
david.salisbury@vanderbilt.edu
615-343-6803
Vanderbilt University
Source:Eurekalert

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