A new development in cell analytics uses sound waves to sort cells. This researchers say will lead to the development of miniaturised medical diagnostic devices.
This new device utilises a set of acoustic tweezers. These are generated from the projection of two sound waves across a silicone membrane. These tweezers can be used to sort a continuous flow of cells into 5 or more channels. This sorting can be altered through adjusting the frequency of the acoustic waves.
Cell sorting devices are in a serious need of a revamp. Currently they are bulky, expensive and have the potential to damage cells. The technology is also limited because it can only sort cells into two channels over one step. This new method will change all this, creating efficient and miniaturised cell sorting devices. The aim is to produce a cell sorter that is the same size as a mobile phone; this could be used for blood or genetic tests.
The acoustic cell-sorting device uses a layer of silicone (polydimethylsiloxane) with two parallel transducers placed either side of the chip. These transducers convert alternating current into acoustic waves. These waves interfere with each other and by doing so form pressure nodes (channels) on the chip. Cells are then channelled towards these pressure nodes. The important point is that these transducers are tuneable. This allows different frequencies to be produced across the chip, allowing for different channels to be created.
To test the device a stream of fluorescent polystyrene beads were sorted into three channels. Before switching on the transducer the particles were not filtered. However as soon as it was the beads were separated into 3 distinct channels. The device was then used to sort human white blood cells, which were affected by Leukaemia, into five channels. A possible of 10 channels has been suggested as possible by the researchers.
This provides researchers with a serious advance in their ability to sort cells. Utilising a novel method to sort cells will enable researchers to work with greater flexibility. It is also more convenient, efficient and safer. Are there any other new technological advances that are exciting you?