Plenary Lecture

Nanomechanical Characterization of Biological Cells

Professor Isaac Kuo-Kang Liu
School of Engineering
University of Warwick
Coventry, UK
E-mail: I.K-K.Liu@warwick.ac.uk

Abstract: It is well recognized that cell mecahnics and adhesion are crucial for maintaining cell functions and their changes are associated with many important physiological/pathological processes. The changes of the cell mechanical properties and cell-cell adhesion can therefore be regarded as a prelude to the pathogenesis of certain diseases. For example, malaria-infected red blood cells (RBCs) have notable alternation in the mechanical properties of cell membrane, while diabatic kidney cells have less cell-cell adhesion than normal one. Recent advancements in nanobiomechanical instruments, such and optical tweezers and by atomic force microscope force spectroscopy (AFM-FS) have enabled the characterization of mechanical poperties and cell-cell adhesion of biological cells. Optical tweezers, often incoperated with micro-fluidic systems, allows to the force measurement as low as 100 pN, while AFM-FS could allow to detect sub-nano-Netwon force. These measurements can be incorporated with mechanical modelling to facilitate the determination of the mechanical properties, such as the elasticity and rupture strength of cell and tissue membrane. In addition to the mechanical properties, interfacial characterization, e.g. cell-cell adhesion, can be realized by our recently developed method which is based on these two techniques. In parallel, various theoretical modelling and simulations, such as the cell mechanics theory and cell-cell adhesion model, have been developed for interpreting the experimental data and for facilitating the determination of the mechanical properties of biological materials at the cellular/molecular level. Various biogical cells, such as red blood cell and mesenchymal stem cells, have been examined by using these new techniques, and their results are presented in this talk.

Brief Biography of the Speaker: Dr. Isaac Kuo-Kang Liu completed his PhD study at the Bioengineering and Chemical Engineering Department of Imperial College London, UK in 1995. Currently, he is an Associate Professor (Reader) in Nanobioengineering at School of Engineering, the University of Warwick, UK. Before joining Warwick in 2009, he was a Reader (2003-2009) in Biomedical and Cell Engineering at the Institute of Science and Technology in Medicine, School of Medicine, Keele University, UK and an Associate Professor (1998-2003) in the Mechanical and Production School of Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. He has published more than 50 high-impact journal papers in Bioengineering and Biophysical areas and 30 other publications, including 2 US patents. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine, a fellow of Nanotechnology Institute, and a senior member of American Institute of Chemical Engineers. He is an editor of several prestigious journals, e.g. Royal Society Interface (Guest Editor). Dr. Liu has been recently awarded one of only seven annual Senior Research Fellowships by Royal Academy of Engineering in recognition of his achievement in nanobiomechanics. He has been invited to give 13 plenary talks in international conferences and many invited lectures in world-renowned institutes such as Cambridge, Oxford, and Max Planck Institute (Stuttgart, Germany).

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