New class of sound wave could aid manipulation of cells

Written by Alexandra Thompson

Researchers at RMIT University in Melbourne (Australia), have combined two types of sound wave to make a new type of wave that could be used by medical devices to aid manipulation of stem cells.

A team at RMIT University in Melbourne (Australia) has combined two types of acoustic sound waves known as bulk and surface waves to create a new wave, the surface reflected bulk wave. This is the first new sound wave in more than 50 years, and they hope it will have a significant impact on stem cell therapy.

Stem cells are fragile and easily damaged, but Dr Amgad Rezk, from RMIT’s Micro/Nano Research Laboratory and an author on the paper, claims that the waves are gentle enough for use in biomedical devices to manipulate them without causing damage or affecting their integrity, and therefore could be used in stem cell treatment.

“The combination of surface and bulk wave means they work in harmony and produce a much more powerful wave,” explained Rezk.

The surface reflected bulk waves have already been applied by Rezk and his colleagues to significantly improve the effectiveness of an innovative new nebulizer that delivers vaccines and other drugs directly to the lung. “We have used the new sound waves to slash the time required for inhaling vaccines through the nebuliser device, from 30 minutes to as little as 30 seconds,” stated Rezk. “But our work also opens up the possibility of using stem cells more efficiently for treating lung disease, enabling us to nebulise stem cells straight into a specific site within the lung to repair damaged tissue. This is a real game changer for stem cell treatment in the lungs.”

Sources:; Rezk AR; Tan JK, Yeo LY. HYbriD Resonant Acoustics (HYDRA). Adv. Mater. doi:10.1002/adma.201504861 (2016).