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Gentle cell handling with an ultra-slow instrument: creep-manipulation of cells

: Thielecke, H.; Impidjati; Zimmermann, H.; Fuhr, G.R.


Microsystem Technologies 11 (2005), No.11, pp.1230-1241
ISSN: 0946-7076
Journal Article
Fraunhofer IBMT ()

In biotechnology, medicine and cell biological research, tasks like the advancement of a probe into a cell aggregate without causing cellular damage or the selection and removal of a specific cell or group from a culture surface or from a cell aggregate without undue stress require gentle cell manipulation. Currently, this requires mechanical or biochemical treatment, usually trypsination. However, these current techniques do induce cell stress and physiological reactions. We surmised that these tasks might be gently performed if the probe or recovery tool were moved sufficiently slowly, i.e. at a speed matched to the cell dynamics. Here, we show that it is possible to move an ultra-slow probe through a monolayer of cultured cells. or into a 3D cell aggregate without causing obvious damage. We also demonstrate that a cell can be detached from a culture substrate by an ultra-slow probe (moving 1/500 to 1/1000 times slower than typical for a micro pipette) in the absence of any chemical treatment. This is the first time ultra-slow probes have been used to our knowledge. Finally, the practical relevance of such slow instrument movements in medicine, biotechnology and cell biology as well as possible applications and perspectives are discussed.