Engineers Create Device That Could 'Hear' Disease through Structures Housing Cells

Monday, March 23, 2020 - 19:19

Engineers of Purdue University have created a device that would allow disease specialists to load an extracellular matrix sample onto a platform and detect its stiffness through sound waves.

According to the Phys.org report, the device is described in a study published in the journal Lab, and the research has been led by Rahim Rahimi, a Purdue assistant professor of materials engineering.

"It's the same concept as checking for damage in an airplane wing. There's a sound wave propagating through the material and a receiver on the other side. The way that the wave propagates can indicate if there's any damage or defect without affecting the material itself," said Rahim Rahimi, a Purdue assistant professor of materials engineering, whose lab develops innovative materials and biomedical devices to address health care challenges.

Rahimi's team developed a nondestructive way to study how the extracellular matrix responds to disease, toxic substances or therapeutic drugs. The initial work for this study was performed in collaboration with the lab of Sophie Lelièvre, a professor of cancer pharmacology at Purdue, to identify how risk factors affect the extracellular matrix and increase the risk of developing breast cancer.

The device is a "lab-on-a-chip" connected to a transmitter and receiver. After pouring the extracellular matrix and the cells it contains onto the platform, the transmitter generates an ultrasonic wave that propagates through the material and then triggers the receiver. The output is an electrical signal indicating the stiffness of the extracellular matrix.

The researchers first demonstrated the device as a proof-of-concept with cancer cells contained in hydrogel, which is a material with a consistency similar to an extracellular matrix. The team now is studying the device's effectiveness on collagen extracellular matrices.

The device could easily be scaled up to run many samples at once, Rahimi said, such as in an array. This would allow researchers to look at several different aspects of a disease simultaneously.

Opinions


Popular News

Latest News