Why we care about cell mechanics:
Creating, sustaining and sensing mechanical forces are fundamental elements in cell-cell and cell-substrate interactions as well as cellular function. Therefore, cell mechanics constitutes a key scientific target for investigating topics ranging from development to disease. We offer the tools that give you the tactile sense necessary to uncover the inner mechanical features of cells.
On the macro-scale, testing the mechanical response is intuitive. To determine if a fruit is ripe, you may gently squeeze it and the degree of deformation will depend on the force of your fingers and the properties of the fruit. Similarly, testing a single cell yields a response that depends on the cytoskeleton, nucleus, membrane and sub-cellular structures.
Deforming cells with hydrodynamic forces: The surrounding fluid generates forces that deform individual cells when they travel through a narrow channel. These forces originate from friction within the fluid, which increasingly reduces the flow velocity closer to the channel wall. A cell in the channel is exposed to the resulting velocity gradient in the liquid and experiences a force field that applies a gentle squeeze. High-speed imaging reveals the resulting cell deformation. The degree of deformation is indicative of the stiffness of the cell.