As the science of small probes deeper into the nanoscale, we have an ever-growing need to establish systems to explore the foundations of the natural world. The design and controlled fabrication of microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) have unlocked new methods for probing materials at small length scales, from nanoengineered surfaces to DNA strands. This talk describes research on analyzing biophysical signatures of cells to change our fundamental understanding of disease.
Cancer is an intricate disease that stems from a number of different mutations in a cell. These mutations often control the cellular growth and proliferation, a hallmark of cancer, and give rise to many altered biophysical properties. There exists a complex relationship between the behavior of a cell, its physical properties, and its surrounding environment. Specifically, probing the mechanisms through which a cell's stiffness influence cell growth, cell differentiation, cell-cycle progression, and apoptosis can provide a deeper understanding of disease progression and how to target it. MEMS resonant sensors can measure the mass and stiffness of individual cells, based on the shift in resonant frequency when attached to the sensor surface. This work describes initial measurements of the growth rate and stiffness of adherent breast cancer cells, and device design considerations that enabled these investigations.
For further information please contact Veronika Szalai, 301-975-3792, veronika.szalai [at] nist.gov (veronika[dot]szalai[at]nist[dot]gov)