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BESC - Methods and Apparatus for Intracellular Fluid Delivery

This invention addresses the problem of dispensing or accessing very small amounts of fluid at a precise location within the cell with minimal damage to the cell structure. Currently, tapered glass micropipettes are the commercial instrument of choice to perform operations inside cells. Despite remarkable progress in developing increasingly smaller glass nanopipettes with sub-micrometer tips, they are fragile and still relatively large compared to cell dimensions. While nuclei may be tens of microns, cell organelles are smaller than 1 micron. For animal embryonic stem cells on the order of 10–20 µm, injection into the nucleus is a challenge. For plant cells, injecting into the cytosol while avoiding the large vacuole volume can be very difficult even though the cell size is large. Because the typical cell is elastic, cell deformation as well as damage to the membrane can occur and must be minimized.

Furthermore, precision dispensing are typically controlled by viewing the cell-pipette system through a conventional optical microscope and manually moving the system components, thereby limiting the microscopic resolution and precision of the injection location within the cell even though the pipette is very small. Inaccurate transplant and fatal deformation of crucial organelles can result. the invention addresses these challenges by providing an apparatus containing a carbon nanotube (CNT) controlled by a probe. The invention precisely transports fluid to a given location.

Minute amounts of fluid are dispensed or imbibed at a precise location by the CNT and the probe. This occurs with localized control and the probe performs cellular “before-and-after” imaging and characterizations.

Biosciences Division
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Phone: (865) 576-4680
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