Wednesday, March 12, 2014

UMD Research Lab Combines Biology and Computer Science (Kai Keefe)

Inside the laboratory of Dr. Wolfgang Losert, located in the Energy Resource Building. Researchers at Losert's lab use a combination of biology and computer science skills to study the behavior of cancerous cells.

Researcher Satarupa Das retrieves cell samples from an incubator, carefully kept at body temperature. The incubator contains samples of both healthy cells and cancerous cells.
Test tubes containing a sugary solution that is used to feed the cells.
Das combines substances under the safety of a fume hood. The fume hood provides a ventilation system that prevents exposure to hazardous vapors.
Using a syringe - like device, Das adds small amounts of food solution to both cell samples.
Das then places the samples in a centrifuge. By spinning the samples at very high speeds, the centrifuge separates the actual cells from the rest of the solution.
Das studies the samples under a microscope. This microscope is equipped with a high definition camera which records a video of the cells as they move around.
As she examines the cells, Das uses a handheld counter to visually estimate the number of cells in the sample. This number can then be used to calculate the density of the sample.
Finally, Das imports the videos from the microscope into a computer program.

Researcher Rachel Lee performs a side by side comparison of the videos of the healthy cells and cancer cells.

Researcher and Graduate student Can Guven has designed a computer program to analyze the videos. By studying the differences in the ways that healthy cells move compared to cancerous cells, the researchers are able to make important inferences about the nature of cancer cells in general.

Flickr Set:

No comments: