Fundamentally, biomedical science is about finding out how our bodies, organs, and cells work. Often, the best way to do that is to get under the skin, and see what’s happening inside. But getting inside a tiny, fragile cell isn’t straightforward. Until recently, most information about cells came from looking at them from the outside, but that’s a bit like trying to understand how a TV works by just watching it. Now scientists have designed a sensor that can slip inside cells and feed back information about the internal goings on, like a spy camera hidden in a private room. The chip, shown here (gold rectangle, centre) nestled inside a human cancer cell, is made of silicon and detects pressure changes without disturbing the cell’s normal function. Could similar chips detecting other variables like temperature or chemical concentrations offer a brand new view on cell biology?
Written by Anthony Lewis
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.
BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.