Bioengineers Levitate Dead Cells to Preserve the Living

Stanford scientists have figured out how to separate the dead cells from the living, using magnetic levitation, gently pulling them away from the still-useful survivors without ripping everything apart.

The scientists are eager to show how it can improve everything from cancer research to 3D-printed scaffolds. Take cancer research, for example. In research shared online last month, the scientists suggest that an experimental drug could be dropped onto a clump of cells. As cancerous cells die, assuming they do, the scientists could levitate them away from the rest of the cells as a way to track and quantify their progress.

Then there’s 3D printing: being able to lift dead cells out of whatever organ or tissue you’re trying to synthesize — without scraping the good stuff along with it — would make life much easier for scientists handling the extremely delicate work.

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