Nano-scale straws: Non-destructive technique to monitor cell’s interior

Cells within the body keep on altering and dividing over time. There are several chemical reactions that take place daily within the cell. So, you can think how difficult it can be for anyone to interpret what is going on inside the cell. The conventional method of studying a particular cell involves destructively bursting or lysing the cells in order to liberate their components for evaluation. Even though this simple method is utilized for decades, it has a restriction as the specific cell can be studied only once.

To overcome this, a research team at Stanford University has designed a new method of analyzing the interior of the cells non-destructively, thus permitting vibrant examination of the same cell for several times. This invention was basically motivated by the natural gates, that is, the gap junctions, which enable the cells to swap substances. The researchers manufactured a series of nano-scale hollow tubes that are 600 times slender than a human hair. Cells that grew on the Nanostraw Extraction (NEX) interface were given a brief electrical current, releasing few cellular components to disperse out via the nanostraws for assortment and investigation by standard laboratory methods, including PCR and ELISA. Thus, this will assist the scientists to take several snapshots of the interior of the cell without the need to kill it.

The team verified the NEX platform on human stem-cell derived brain & brain cells and cell lines for 20 days, demonstrating that it didn’t change morphology or cell survival. Representing the flexibility of NEX sampling, the researchers calculated intensities of dynamic and constant fluorescent proteins for numerous days, exhibiting high connection with estimations from conventional lysis methods. Remarkably, NEX can test all parts of the cytoplasm, is reliable for quantifying mRNA and functional proteins levels, and its functioning is not affected by an active culture, for instance, the beating heart cells.

This is surely a great achievement by the team and now they are concentrating on adding a step to amplify the extracted components of the cell. We hope that the team achieves its goals.

Do share your opinion about this novel technique.

Ankit Kadam is a content writer working at Medical Device News. He is in the professional writing business since 1 year. He has hands on experience in writing product description, technological reviews, and marketing materials. He earns to travel and lives to explore. He can be reached at