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Medical Cell Biophysics

The investigations of the Medical Cell Biophysics (MCBP) group are aimed at gaining a better understanding of the properties of diseased cells. It is a basis for the development of technologies to optimize the diagnosis and treatment of illnesses. MCBP works mainly on various forms of cancer.

MCBP has been a pioneer in the development of a technique for the detection of the very low level of residual cancer cells in the blood of patients who have already been treated. The presence of such ‘dormant’ cells increases the risk of metastases. This technique allows such cells to be detected an impressive two months earlier than with other methods. The current challenge is to develop a method for removing the detected residual cancer cells from the body. In this connection, the group focuses on the proteins that are essential for the survival of the cancer cells. This is done through the DNA. The aim is to inactivate as many as possible of the genes that are responsible for the production of these proteins.

Scientists of MCBP have developed a robust and portable instrument, that can count lymphocytes to monitor the immune status of HIV patients. In a magnetic field, T-cells labeled with magnetic and fluorescent markers accumulate at the top surface of a fluidic chamber, while other cells settle at the bottom. After this separation, the fluorescence of the lymphocytes can be imaged easily. The instruments have been used successfully in several field tests. Currently, MCBP is further simplifying the test, so that it can be carried out by less experienced operators in rural areas of Sub-Saharan Africa, the region that is mostly affected by HIV.

Placing a blood sample into the T-cell counter

For more information about Medical Cell Biophysics, visit the homepage of this research group.