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Home Industry News New ultrasonic ‘tweezers’ offer significant medical potential

New ultrasonic ‘tweezers’ offer significant medical potential

4th June 2014

UK engineers and researchers have created a potentially groundbreaking ultrasonic device that could be used in various medical techniques.

The 'tweezers' use ultrasound beams to grip and interact with tiny clusters of cells. With the aid of a powerful microscope for monitoring, the forces generated by the waves can be manipulated to nudge cells into the required position, turn them around or hold them firmly in place.

For example, the device can be used to create better cartilage implants by taking cells from a patient's knee that can be levitated for weeks in a nutrient-rich fluid. The tweezers can also mould the growing tissue into exactly the right shape to be fitted into a patient's knee.

The tweezers were developed by researchers from the Universities of Southampton, Bristol, Dundee and Glasgow, with funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

Professor Bruce Drinkwater of Bristol University, who co-ordinated the programme, said: "They have a complete absence of moving parts and can manipulate not just one or two cells at a time, but clusters up to 1mm across – a scale that makes them very suitable for applications like tissue engineering."

Currently, more than 75,000 knee replacements are carried out each year in the UK, but it is thought this could be reduced if cartilage implants could be improved through the use of this new device.ADNFCR-8000103-ID-801725723-ADNFCR

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