Purdue University researchers have developed a new device in the lab that could help diagnose cancerthat that invades body tissue. One sign that cancer is attacking human tissue comes from hardening of the structure around the body’s cells. Monitoring this structural change, the extracellular matrix, could provide researchers with another way to study cancer.
The challenge for scientists is to have difficulty detecting changes in extracellular matrix without damaging cells. Researchers at Purdue University have created a device that allows doctors and researchers to load extracellular matrix samples onto a platform and use sound waves to detect their stiffness. The team says this is the same concept as checking the plane’s wings for damage.
In the sensor, sound waves propagate through the material and the receiver on the other side. The design of the system and the way in which sound waves are transmitted can determine whether the detected object is damaged or defective without affecting the material itself. The non-destructive methoddeveloped by scientists could study how extracellular substrates respond to disease, as well as how they respond to toxic substances and therapeutic drugs.
The device is called an “on-chip lab” and is connected to the sender and receiver. Once the extracellular matrix and the cells it contains are poured onthe platform, the transmitter produces an ultrasound that travels through the material and triggers the receiver. The output indicates an electrical signal indicating the stiffness of the extracellular matrix.
Scientists are studying the effectiveness of the sensor in the extraterrestrial matrix of collagen cells. The team is also working to zoom in on sensors while detecting multiple samples. Being able to detect multiple samples at the same time will allow the team to view several aspects of the disease at the same time.