Probe to unlock cell secrets

Sept. 14, 2006
Scientists are trying to create drugs capable of targeting some of the most devastating human diseases.

To do so they must first decode exactly how cells or cell groups communicate with each other and react to surrounding biomolecules. But it is difficult to observe complex cellular interactions, as they would take place in the human body, without disturbing the process or missing a lot of what goes on.

To get around the problem, Georgia Tech researchers have built a nanoscale Scanning Mass Spectrometry (SMS) probe. It captures both the biochemical makeup and topography of complex biological objects, in situ. The SMS probe gently pulls biomolecules at a specific point on the cell-tissue surface. Ions produced by the action go to a mass spectrometer for analysis.

The probe dynamically images the cellular surface and maps cellular activity and communication, potentially in real time. In scanning mode, it could create movies of cell biochemical activity with high spatial and temporal resolution. The SMS probe readily integrates with atomic force microscopes and other scanning probes, letting it image biochemical activity as well as changes in cell-tissue topology.

How the SMS probe works.

Sponsored Recommendations

The entire spectrum of drive technology

June 5, 2024
Read exciting stories about all aspects of maxon drive technology in our magazine.


May 15, 2024
Production equipment is expensive and needs to be protected against input abnormalities such as voltage, current, frequency, and phase to stay online and in operation for the ...

Solenoid Valve Mechanics: Understanding Force Balance Equations

May 13, 2024
When evaluating a solenoid valve for a particular application, it is important to ensure that the valve can both remain in state and transition between its de-energized and fully...

Solenoid Valve Basics: What They Are, What They Do, and How They Work

May 13, 2024
A solenoid valve is an electromechanical device used to control the flow of a liquid or gas. It is comprised of two features: a solenoid and a valve. The solenoid is an electric...

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Machine Design, create an account today!