When scientists study cells, they need to know how much oxygen each cell consumes to determine its metabolism. However, existing technology limits this study to groups of cells, not individual cells. Lihong Wang, PhD, plans to change that.
Wang, the Gene K. Beare Distinguished Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis, has received a three-year, $300,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to study oxygen consumption rates of individual cells using photoacoustic microscopy, a novel imaging technology he developed that uses light and sound to measure change.
"When you image a group of cells, you assume all cells are identical, but they are not cells are heterogeneous and consume oxygen differently," says Wang, who also is affiliated with the Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine. "We will measure oxygen consumption on a per-cell basis, but measure many cells at the same time, giving us high specificity and a high-speed, high-yield throughput. As a result, we will be able to rapidly map distributions of cellular metabolism."
Wang and his collaborators will use hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen, as a biocompatible sensor to determine oxygen consumption. Hemoglobin changes color when oxygenated or deoxygenated. The color change is too slight to see using conventional microscopy, confocal microscopy or two-photon microscopy, but photoacoustic microscopy is exquisitely sensitive to color change, Wang says.
"Once cells are loaded into a matrix of wells, all we have to do is to use light-induced ultrasound to sense the color of hemoglobin next to each well," Wang says. "The rate of change in color of hemoglobin is used to compute the consumption rate of oxygen by each cell."
The proposed technology can lead to further understanding of a wide range of biological systems, from single cells to ecos
|Contact: Neil Schoenherr|
Washington University in St. Louis