Highly efficient new cell fusing system discovered

Recently, researchers created a new, highly efficient way to pair up cells so that they can be fused together into a hybrid cell.

Research team led by Joel Voldman, Associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science, and Rudolf Jaenisch, Professor of biology and a member of the Whitehead Institute discovered an ingenious sorting method that increases the rate of successful cell fusion from around 10 percent to about 50 percent, and allows thousands of cell pairings at once.

Researchers said that one of the biggest hindrances was how to get the right cells to pair up before fusing them. It happened usually that if scientists are working with a mixture of two cell types, for example A and B, they end up with many AA and BB pairings, as well as the desired AB match.

The cell-trapping cups on Voldman and Jaenisch's new sorting device are arranged strategically to capture and pair up cells of different types.

Researchers said that initially type A cells are flowed across the chip in one direction and caught in traps that are large enough to hold only one cell. After the cells are trapped than the liquid is flowed across the chip in the opposite direction, pushing the cells out of the small cups and into larger cups across from the small ones.

When one A cell is in each large cup, type B cells are flowed into the large cups. Each cup can only hold two cells, so each ends up with one A and one B. Then these cells can be joined together by an electric pulse that fuses the cell membranes.