Advances in live cell culturing and imaging have created an effective platform for studying the effects of manipulating cellular and molecular structures. Cellular engineering, where researchers apply the principles of engineering, math, chemistry, and physics to mimicking and manipulating cellular structure and behavior, requires the ability to not only create more predictive cell cultures, but visualize them over extended periods.
Cellular engineering applications include areas like:
Cell membrane structures
Cell adhesion surfaces
Cytoskeletal structure and function
Hemodynamics and cell/tissue interactions
Live cell imaging platforms also have significant value when assessing the behavior of genetically modified cells. Modern molecular biology has yielded techniques that now allow researchers to manipulate cellular processes by modifying and controlling genes, gene networks, transcription, and translation using a variety of techniques. Some of these workhorses of biomedical engineering include:
Transfection is the process of delivering genetic material into a cell for the purpose of manipulating the host genome. Originally, the realm of host pathogen interactions, transfections are routinely done to get designed genomic constructs, proteins, or drugs into cells. Material is typically conveyed to the target cells by briefly disrupting the cell membrane by virus, chemicals, electroporation, or lipid granules. For further discussion of transfection, visit our transfection page.
Genome editing is a very recent molecular manipulation of genetic material, which has exploded in popularity due to its precision nature. In this technique, specific genetic sequences are inserted, removed, or swapped out of a targeted spot in the genome using engineered nucleases, aptly dubbed “molecular scissors”. These nucleases come from 4 families: