Chemical technology news from across RSC Publishing.
On-chip suction stops worm wiggling
30 April 2008
Scientists in the US have developed a microfluidic method for immobilising worms in fractions of a second, allowing them to be used in high throughput studies of disease.1
Caenorhabditis elegans is a tiny, semi-transparent worm. Its properties make it useful for studying a wide variety of diseases and biological processes, including Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease and aging. But to be able to study the worm, scientists have to stop it wriggling.
Mehmet Fatih Yanik and colleagues at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, US, put the worm inside a microfluidic channel. They lowered the pressure inside the channel, causing the worm to be sucked up against the side. A flexible membrane then sealed the worm to the side, restricting its movement completely.
Previously, scientists used anaesthesia or cooling to immobilise worms but this affected their biological functioning. Using the new method, Yanik's group can immobilise worms for longer than with previous methods, allowing more detailed studies to be performed, and without any negative effects.
- Aaron Wheeler, University of Toronto, Canada
Aaron Wheeler, an expert in microfluidics at the University of Toronto, Canada, states that this work shows that 'microfluidics has emerged as a powerful tool for basic biology studies in whole-animal models, facilitating experiments that would be impossible by conventional means.'
Yanik believes that this new technology could dramatically accelerate large-scale studies on disease models. 'We are currently using large-scale genetic and drug libraries to discover factors that affect neural regeneration in vivo using femtosecond laser nanosurgery,' he says.
1. F. Zeng, C. R. Rohde and M. F. Yanik, Lab Chip, 2008, 8, 653 (DOI:10.1039/b804808h)
2. C. B. Rohde, F. Zeng, R. Gonzalez-Rubio, M. Angel and M. F. Yanik, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 2007, 104, 13891 (DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0706513104)
Link to journal article
Sub-cellular precision on-chip small-animal immobilization, multi-photon imaging and femtosecond-laser manipulation
Fei Zeng, Christopher B. Rohde and Mehmet Fatih Yanik, Lab Chip, 2008, 8, 653
Also of interest
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A microfabricated array of clamps for immobilizing and imaging C. elegans
S. Elizabeth Hulme, Sergey S. Shevkoplyas, Javier Apfeld, Walter Fontana and George M. Whitesides, Lab Chip, 2007, 7, 1515