Ann Conkle
Mar 16, 2012

Printing live cells with a standard inkjet printer

Researchers from Clemson University have found a way to print live cells and create temporary holes in their membranes using a standard inkjet printer. "We first had the idea for this method when we wanted to be able to visualize changes in the cytoskeleton arrangement due to applied forces on cells," said paper-author Delphine Dean. Other researchers have been using this method to print cells onto slides, but that they have only recently discovered that printing the cells causes the disruption in their membranes for a few hours. Creating temporary pores allow researchers to put molecules inside of cells that wouldn't otherwise fit, and study how the cells react. The printer is modified by removing the paperfeed mechanism and adding a ‘stage’ from which to feed the slides. The ink is replaced with a cell solution, and the cells are printed directly on to the slides. Using this method, the researchers are able to process thousands of cells in a matter of minutes.