Engineers Classify Cells on the Basis of Sound

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Do cells make a sound? Obviously with so many processes and complex reactions going on inside each one of them there must be some typical kind of sounds emanating from them. A newly developed device recently showcased its ability to be able to distinguish between different kinds of cells on the basis of deformability, size, electrical characteristics and acoustical properties. The last one was possible on the basis of the fact that density and compressibility of different cells can be found on the basis of their response to various sound waves. The method can, thus, be used in separation of cells with same size.

The microfluidic channel is known for vibrating at very low frequencies. As cells move through this channel, they get pushed to a specific position on the basis of their interaction with acoustic forces that get generated through vibration. In case, the cells are flowing through a water channel, almost 99 percent of those get clustered in the center due to their high density. Addition of a compound like iodixanol leads to creation of a density gradient medium in the channel that prevents formation of clusters.

When minute volume of vibrations are applied, the acoustic forces resulting from those help in maintenance of gradient position. Joel Voldman, an MIT professor of computer science and electrical engineering likes to add, “If we make the liquid super dense in the middle and less dense at the edges, the particles or cells will move until their acoustic properties match whatever the local environment is,”

Acoustic cell sorting can have large number of application including rapid test results and blood count. The test needs a blood sample that are sent to the lab for analysis. It is used in determination of RBCs and various other kinds of WBCs that are present in the bloodstream of patient. As Voldman adds,” You could do a complete blood count that doesn’t equire any labeling of the cells.” ‘’