The stiffness of biological cells can be used to infer useful information on the cell’s phenotype, state and medical condition. Accordingly, measuring cell stiffness is an important part of biological research with diverse applications in biology, biotechnology and medicine. Reliable and fast measurements are only possible by a connection of high-throughput experimental techniques in combination with numerical simulations. In a new and extremely efficient technique (called RT-DC) cells are flushed through a microfluidic channel and camera images of cell deformation provide an indicator for cell stiffness.
To extract the cell mechanical parameters, cell deformation images must be matched with numerical simulations of the process. To this end, we develop new mathematical models to simulate biological cells in flow. Thereby the cell is modeled as a viscoelastic material surrounded by a thin elastic shell cortex, subject to bending stiffness and cortical surface tension. In collaboration with experimentalists, the project results are used for ultra-fast cell diagnosics to detect diseases and to evaluate new medical treatments.
Funded by: DFG (AL1705-3), Saxonian ministry of Science and Arts