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article imageOil droplets could help diagnose cancer

By Tim Sandle     Dec 15, 2013 in Science
A new method, which involves injecting tiny oil droplets into cells, could lead to new tools to diagnose cancer, hypertension, and connective tissue diseases.
Biological tissues are constantly in motion, with cells tugging on and nudging other cells and the extracellular matrix. When these motions change this can sometimes trigger diseases or be the consequence of different diseases. Researchers reason that if they study these motions they can find improved ways to detect certain diseases early. Such forces are particularly important as the body develops from the fertilized egg into tissues and organs with specialized shapes and functions (something called morphogenesis).
By studying cellular forces scientists hope that they can find entirely new ways to diagnose the wide range of diseases that alter cell structure and tissue stiffness. Progress has been made through using advanced 3D imaging. Researchers are of the view that they now have some knowledge of the different patterns in order that they can begin to make predictions. This is based on spatial patterns and forces.
The research was carried out at Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and the Wyss Institute for Biological Engineering at Harvard University. The findings have been published in Nature Methods. The paper is titled “Quantifying cell-generated mechanical forces within living embryonic tissues”.
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