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Levitating Cells

November 12, 2015

A new technology levitates cells and probes them with sound to determine if they’re cancerous.



Probing cells with sound. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Researchers can use sound to probe individual cells and determine if they’re cancerous. But the process is complicated by sound waves reflecting off the sample dish. At a meeting of the Acoustical Society of America, Utah Valley University researcher Timothy Doyle reports using a second sound source to levitate the cells away from the dish surface.

TIMOTHY DOYLE (Utah Valley University):

We’re floating cells in the fluid and we’re creating these layers of the cells so we can then probe them with a much higher frequency probe.


The high frequencies reveal the cell’s stiffness, which helps identify the type and aggressiveness of the cancer.


It’s getting into this realm of personalized medicine, so we can actually tailor the treatment to the patient as to whether it’s one type of cancer or another.


He says the technique may also help diagnose immune disorders and Alzheimer’s disease. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.