The innovation has the potential to provide non-destructive cell monitoring versus lysing, the cell sampling method presently used. Lysing ruptures the cell, while the sampling method developed at Stanford relies on tiny tubes that are 600 times smaller than a strand of hair. The nanostraws penetrate the cell’s outer membrane without damage, sampling proteins and genetic material inside the cell.
The method is like a “blood draw for the cell,” says Nicholas Melosh, an associate professor of materials science and engineering and senior author of the paper describing the research. Melosh and his colleagues recently published the paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Melosh envisions the nanostraw sampling technique enabling long-term, non-destructive monitoring of cells, providing a much better understanding of cell development. Thanks to the nanostraws, researchers could hopefully gain a much better understanding of stem cell development or the effectiveness of cancer therapies.