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How to slow down the time for the cells

How to slow down the time for the cells

Fluorescent images show that the cells do not change visibly morphologically. The slowdown in their dynamics is due solely to the presence of heavy water. Credit: University of Leipzig

Scientists from the University of Leipzig, in collaboration with colleagues from Germany and England, were able to reversibly slow down cellular processes. A team of biophysicists led by Professor Josef Alphonse Cass and Dr. Jörg Schnaus were able to show in experiments that cells can transfer in slow motion without changing temperature.

From a physical point of view, such possibilities have so far been available only in the context of the theory of relativity. Researchers recently published their findings in the famous journal Extended materials. Cells are not only our biological building blocks, but also highly dynamic, active systems. The research team, led by Professor Cass, was able to significantly reduce this dynamic with heavy water without damaging the cells.

“In general, many people know heavy water because of its important technical use in nuclear power plants. Here we have taken a different approach and shown that for cells, time ̵

1; or more precisely their dynamics – can be significantly delayed in the presence of heavy water.” said Cass, who has devoted himself to studying the physical properties of cells and tissues.

The study showed at different biological levels that the movement of cells and their dynamics takes place only in slow motion. “It’s very intriguing that cell dynamics can slow down at the same temperature. So far, only the theory of relativity offers such possibilities in a physical context,” Cass explained. He added that the results are the basis of a method of offering cells and organs longer-term protection against degeneration.

The researchers confirmed this effect with various complementary methods and attributed the observations to an enhanced interaction between structural proteins. “Heavy water also forms hydrogen bonds, but they are stronger than in a normal aquatic environment. As a result, structural proteins like actin seem to interact more strongly with each other and stick together briefly. What’s spectacular here is that the effects are reversible, with cells showing their natural properties again as soon as they are transferred to a normal aquatic environment, “said Dr. Jörg Schnaus. “Even more amazing is that these changes show the imprint of passive material. However, the cells are highly active and far from thermodynamic equilibrium. If they behave as passive material, they are usually dead,” Cass added.

However, as the researchers were able to show, this was not the case in their experiments. Now they hope to be able to use the knowledge gained to keep cells or even tissues vital for longer. If this approach is confirmed, heavy water can be used for longer storage times, for example during organ transplants.

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More information:
Jörg Schnauß et al., Slow-moving cells: obvious subcooling increases glass behavior at physiological temperatures, Extended materials (2021). DOI: 10.1002 / adma.202101840

Provided by the University of Leipzig

Quote: How to slow down cell time (2021, June 4), retrieved June 5, 2021 from https://phys.org/news/2021-06-retard-cells.html

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