Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Gravity-defying ultrasonic tweezers could lead to life-changing medical advances

Date:
June 3, 2014
Source:
University of Southampton
Summary:
Researchers have developed pioneering ‘tweezers’ that use ultrasound beams to grip and manipulate tiny clusters of cells, which could lead to life-changing medical advances, such as better cartilage implants that reduce the need for knee replacement operations. Using ultrasonic sound fields, cartilage cells taken from a patient’s knee can be levitated for weeks in a nutrient-rich fluid.

Ultrasound beams levitating polystyrene balls.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Southampton

Researchers from the University of Southampton have helped to develop pioneering 'tweezers' that use ultrasound beams to grip and manipulate tiny clusters of cells, which could lead to life-changing medical advances, such as better cartilage implants that reduce the need for knee replacement operations.

Using ultrasonic sound fields, cartilage cells taken from a patient's knee can be levitated for weeks in a nutrient-rich fluid. This means the nutrients can reach every part of the culture's surface and, combined with the stimulation provided by the ultrasound, enables the cells to grow and to form better implant tissue than when grown on a glass petri dish.

By holding the cells in the required position firmly but gently, the tweezers can also mould the growing tissue into exactly the right shape so that the implant is truly fit-for-purpose when inserted into the patient's knee. Over 75,000 knee replacements are carried out each year in the UK; many could be avoided if cartilage implants could be improved.

The ultrasonic tweezers were developed by researchers from the Universities of Southampton, Bristol, Dundee and Glasgow as well as a range of industrial partners.

Professor Martyn Hill, Head of the Engineering Sciences Unit at the University of Southampton, led the cartilage tissue engineering work in collaboration with colleagues Dr Peter Glynne-Jones, New Frontiers Fellow in Engineering Sciences, Dr Rahul Tare, a Lecturer in Musculoskeletal Science and Bioengineering, and Professor Richard Oreffo, a Professor of Musculoskeletal Science.

Professor Hill says: "Ultrasonic tweezers can provide what is, in effect, a zero-gravity environment perfect for optimising cell growth. As well as levitating cells, the tweezers can make sure that the cell agglomerates maintain a flat shape ideal for nutrient absorption. They can even gently massage the agglomerates in a way that encourages cartilage tissue formation."

Professor Bruce Drinkwater of Bristol University, who co-ordinated the programme, says: "Ultrasonic tweezers have all kinds of possible uses in bioscience, nanotechnology and more widely across industry. They offer big advantages over optical tweezers relying on light waves and also over electromagnetic methods of cell manipulation; for example, they have a complete absence of moving parts and can manipulate not just one or two cells at a time but clusters up to 1mm across -- a scale that makes them very suitable for applications like tissue engineering."

The tweezers, developed with Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) funding, involve multiple, tiny beams of ultrasonic waves that, in a typical device, point into a 10 mm-diameter chamber from all around. With the aid of a powerful microscope to monitor the procedure, the forces generated by the waves can then be manipulated so that they nudge cells into the required position, turn them around, or hold them firmly in place.

The research programme has also shown that ultrasonic tweezers can be used to build up cell tissue layer by layer, which could for instance, help to reconstruct nerve tissue after severe trauma such as limb amputation.

This research will enable ultrasonic tweezer technology to be refined and miniaturised and specific uses to be explored and developed in the next few years. The first real-world applications, in sectors such as bioscience and electronics, could potentially be developed within around five years.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Southampton. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Southampton. "Gravity-defying ultrasonic tweezers could lead to life-changing medical advances." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 June 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140603092214.htm>.
University of Southampton. (2014, June 3). Gravity-defying ultrasonic tweezers could lead to life-changing medical advances. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140603092214.htm
University of Southampton. "Gravity-defying ultrasonic tweezers could lead to life-changing medical advances." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140603092214.htm (accessed September 20, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

AP (Sep. 19, 2014) A federal jury has convicted three people in connection with an outbreak of salmonella poisoning five years ago that sickened hundreds of people and was linked to a number of deaths. (Sept. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
How The 'Angelina Jolie Effect' Increased Cancer Screenings

How The 'Angelina Jolie Effect' Increased Cancer Screenings

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) Angelina's Jolie's decision to undergo a preventative mastectomy in 2013 inspired many women to seek early screenings for the disease. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Cost of Ebola

The Cost of Ebola

Reuters - Business Video Online (Sep. 18, 2014) As Sierra Leone prepares for a three-day "lockdown" in its latest bid to stem the spread of Ebola, Ciara Lee looks at the financial implications of fighting the largest ever outbreak of the disease. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins