Red blood cells as mechanical objects
May 1, 2012
Dr Pietro Cicuta is a colleague of Professor Donald at the Cavendish Laboratory. He studied physics in Italy and was drawn to biological physics by its endless source of interesting problems and its unusually collaborative approach to research.
He describes how his team is studying the mechanical properties of red blood cells, the simplest cell type in the human body. Their work has applications in malaria, a disease where a parasite infects the red blood cells and eats the haemoglobin. The team have developed 'optical tweezers' which have enabled them to move the cells and parasites around a sample. This will not only help them to uncover the mechanism by which the parasites infect healthy cells, but also ultimately develop a screening tool to help test the effects of various drugs.
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