A bioMEMS device for the study of mechanical properties of cells

Joseph M. Sanders, Logan Butt, Ashley Clark, James Williams, Michael Padgen, Edison Leung, Patricia Keely, John S. Condeelis, Julio Aguirre-Ghiso, James Castracane

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


The tumor microenvironment is a complex system which is not fully understood. New technologies are needed to provide a better understanding of the role of the tumor microenvironment in promoting metastasis. The Nano Intravital Device, or NANIVID, has been developed as an optically transparent, implantable tool to study the tumor microenvironment. Two etched glass substrates are sealed using a thin polymer membrane to create a reservoir with a single outlet. This reservoir is loaded with a custom hydrogel blend that contains selected factors for delivery to the tumor microenvironment. When the device is implanted in the tumor, the hydrogel swells and releases these entrapped molecules, forming a sustained concentration gradient. The NANIVID has previously been successful in manipulating the tumor microenvironment both in vitro as well as in vivo. As metastatic cells intravasate, it has been shown that some are able to do so unscathed and reach their new location, while others are cleaved during the process1. There appears to be a correlation between cell migration and the mechanical properties of these cells. It is believed that these properties can be detected in real time by atomic force microscopy. In this study, metastatic MTLn3 rat mammary cells are seeded onto 1-dimensional microfibers and directed up a stable gradient of growth factor. The NANIVID device is placed behind our AFM tip, where it generates a stable chemotactic gradient of epidermal growth factor. Scanning confocal laser microscopy is also used to monitor movement of the cells over time. This experiment will shed light on the mechanical changes in metastatic cells as they undergo directed migration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMicrofluidics, BioMEMS, and Medical Microsystems XIII
EditorsHolger Becker, Bonnie L. Gray
ISBN (Electronic)9781628414103
StatePublished - 2015
EventMicrofluidics, BioMEMS, and Medical Microsystems XIII - San Francisco, United States
Duration: Feb 7 2015Feb 9 2015

Publication series

NameProgress in Biomedical Optics and Imaging - Proceedings of SPIE
ISSN (Print)1605-7422


OtherMicrofluidics, BioMEMS, and Medical Microsystems XIII
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Francisco


  • atomic force microscopy
  • breast cancer
  • chemotaxis
  • mechanical properties
  • metastasis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Biomaterials
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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