Applied Biophysics, Harnesses Technology for Cell Research
TROY, N.Y.--A Rensselaer Incubator company has commercialized a technology that may take the animal out of animal testing.
Ivar Giaever, a Nobel Prize-winning biophysicist at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and Charlie Keese, a senior research scientist at the Institute, have developed the Electric Cell-Substrate Impedance Sensing-ECIS 100--which uses electricity to study complex cell behavior.
Giaever and Keese founded Applied Biophysics Inc. (www.biophysics.com) at the Rensselaer Incubator Center in 1993. Since then, they've licensed the ECIS technology for commercial use and have sold more than 20 systems worldwide. Giaever recently presented his research at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting in Anaheim, Calif., in January.
Using the new electric biosensor instead of the traditional petri dish and microscope to study cells offers unprecedented sensitivity and detailed results, says Giaever. Data can be taken as often as every quarter-second to follow a cell's behavior movements. The software runs on a Windows 98 platform and manages all data acquisition, storage, and analysis.
"This method offers a non-invasive technique for testing animal cells," Giaever explains. "By electronically eavesdropping on cells, we can examine and measure the activity of live cells over time. This is an entirely new way of doing tissue culture. Because the system is computer-based, highly quantitative data can be gathered in real time, 24 hours a day, with minimal lab time and personnel involved."
In the cosmetics industry for example whole live animals are used to test products. The ECIS 100 eliminates the need to carry out tests on live animals and yields more comprehensive data when studying toxic effects on cells.