UAM scientists create optical tweezers

The capture and manipulation of red blood cells can help in the diagnosis of diabetes

UAM scientists create optical tweezers to capture red blood cells
Led by Dr. Jose Luis Hernandez Pozos, the research group has been working for almost six years with a laser trap - Photo: Thomas Peter/REUTERS
English 13/11/2018 20:09 Notimex Mexico City Actualizada 20:11

A team of students and scientists from the Physics Department at the Iztapalapa Unit of the Autonomous Metropolitan University (UAM) have designed a system of optical tweezers for the capture and manipulation of red blood cells, which can help determine the damage in erythrocytes caused by diabetes mellitus.

Led by Dr. Jose Luis Hernandez Pozos, the research group has been working for almost six years with an instrument called a laser trap to aid in the diagnosis of diseases, including hyperglycemia, which afflicts 9.4 percent of Mexicans , according to the 2016 National Health and Nutrition Survey, the university reported.

The professor explained that these devices allow to fix or trap very small particles by means of a highly focused laser beam.

The prototype can be used for various purposes. "We were interested in trapping and manipulating red blood cells to contribute to the diagnosis of a serious health problem in Mexico,” claimed the investigators.

"The disease is widespread in the country, because Mexicans have a gene that predisposes us to develop it." The laser trap allows scientists to observe the deformability of red blood cells, which in their normal state measure between eight and ten microns and must circulate through capillaries that are one micron in diameter; in order to fit in them, they must be deformed.

This becomes complicated when dealing with people that show high levels of glycemia, which causes their deformation capacity to decreases too much, to the point that sometimes erythrocytes do not pass through the capillaries, which causes inadequate blood oxygenation, especially in the limbs.

With this technique "we analyze elasticity levels in a red blood cell to assess the damage of red blood cells in diabetes patients," they explained.

The technology generated in the Iztapalapa Unit has proven its efficiency in determining the degree of involvement of erythrocytes in a disease that has spread both in Mexico and abroad.
 

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