A supplement providing a snapshot of the latest developments in chemical biology
Device monitors expression
15 November 2006
A 'living cell array' to monitor cell responses to drugs could lead to a greater understanding of liver disease and its treatment.
Martin Yarmush and a team at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, US, have developed a microfluidic device that allows them to study gene expression, the production of proteins from genes, in living cells.
The array can monitor the effects of drugs and disease on living cells.
Previously, scientists looking at gene expression would have to make destructive measurements, said Yarmush. The cell would be broken up for analysis, giving a snapshot of its response to a stimulus, he explained. Long term responses had to be assembled from separate cell populations.
Using the microfluidic system, the team was able to monitor gene expression continually, a so-called dynamic study. By altering the genes to express fluorescent proteins and exposing the cells to different conditions, the team could measure the effects on gene expression as a change in fluorescence.
KR King, S Wang, D Irimia, A Javaraman, M Toner, ML Yarmush, Lab Chip, 2006,