Clearing Blocked Capillaries With A Laser Beam

Researchers in China have developed a non-invasive technique to trap and move cells in living mice.

AsianScientist (Apr. 24, 2013) – Researchers in China have developed a non-invasive technique to trap and move cells in living mice.

The method, published in Nature Communications today, is based on infrared optical tweezers, and was used by researchers to restore blood flow in blocked mice capillaries.

Optical tweezers are focused laser beams and are widely used for biophysical measurements of single molecules in controlled environments such as test tubes. However, they have not previously been used to manipulate cells in living animals.

In this study, Professor Yin-Mei Li and her team from the Department of Physics at the University of Science and Technology of China in Hefei, China focused infrared lasers on subdermal capillaries in mouse ears. Doing so, they showed that they could stop – and release – passing red blood cells by changing the intensity of the laser.

Li and colleagues used this technique to remove individual red blood cells from a clump that blocked a capillary, restoring blood flow in the capillary.

The authors noted that the application of these infrared optical tweezers is currently limited to subdermal capillaries due to the relatively weak tissue penetration of focused light. Deeper tissue may not be accessible to the laser beam, and therefore further improvements would be needed for this approach to work with wider blood vessels or more complex blood clots.

The article can be found at: Zhong MC et al. (2013) Trapping red blood cells in living animals using optical tweezers.


Source: NPG; Photo: zane.hollingsworth/Flickr/CC.
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