Photo-electric Device and Method for High Throughput Activation, Guidance and Poration of Targeted Cells with High Spatial Resolution
Background: In biomedical research, controlled modulation of physiological functions of various excitable cells such as skeletal, cardiac and neuronal cells is important. The information derived from activation of these excitable cells under different chemical environments can lead to the evaluation of therapeutic drug efficacy. Further, there is a need for controlled poration of exogenous materials/genes into living cells. Various electrical, chemical and optical methods are recently being pursued to realize this goal. However, chemical methods cannot modulate cells in localized spatial locations with high temporal resolution since it requires control of fluid flow into or from the desired regions with high precision. While light beams can be spatially configured to excite and transfect several cells in parallel, the high laser power requirements and low throughput has been a hindrance to its applicability. Use of multiple electrodes for excitation, and poration of cells is limited due to lack of the ability to reconfigure the electrodes in real time and also due to the complicated fabrication process. Technology: Researchers at the University of California, Irvine have developed a photo-electric device for high throughput activation, guidance and poration of targeted cells with high spatial resolution. This eliminates the requirement of highly intense light beam or microfabrication of static electrodes. The purpose of this invention is to use the spatially (and/ or temporally) localized electric field generated on the photoconductive surface for selected and high throughput activation and guidance of targeted (excitable) cells such as neurons, cardiac and muscle cells with high spatial resolution, and also for poration of biological cells. The activation, guidance and poration regions can be selected and controlled through a computer. Application: The above invention has several important biological and biomedical applications. A scientist can control the modulation of the laser beam to examine cellular responses to activation induced depolarization. Researchers are able to selectively excite and/or guide excitable (e.g. neuronal) cells with high spatial and temporal accuracy. Another application of this device is lysis of selected cells with high resolution. An improvement over other methods is the accuracy and efficacy of the system. Further improvements include a low cost laser system that can generate sufficient electric field to accomplish the processes of activation, guidance and poration of cells without damage to the cells themselves. As well, the electric field generated by the laser can accomplish these processes in multiple locations, thus enhancing the throughput.
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