Researchers have built microscopic pyramids as cages for growing cells

Illustration for article titled Researchers have built microscopic pyramids as cages for growing cells

This photograph may look like an artifact from an alien world (one with similar taste in architecture to the Egyptians), but it actual depicts a cell living in a pyramid-shaped cage, one that helps us view cells in something closer to their natural environment.

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One of the problems with studying cells in a petri dish is that you're viewing them in a flat environment rather than in something resembling three-dimensional tissue. This technique, known as corner lithography, allows researchers to study cells in a controlled environment while coming closer to mimicking tissue. Researchers from the University of Twente in the Netherlands created these cages by placing nitrides over silicon pits and then peeling away most of the material. Some of the material remains in the corners, forming a pyramid.

Since the pyramids are open at the sides and are sufficiently close to one another, the cells are still able to interact for the most part as they normally would, unaware of and unimpeded by their cages.

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Now we just need to wait for someone to make a commemorative corner lithography D4.

You can read more about the process in the August 21st issue of Small.

Photo from the University of Twente.

Living cells captured in pyramid cages [New Scientist via BLDG BLOG]

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DISCUSSION

Oh shit. This is the sort of thing you only get as the prelude to some kind of apocalypse.

You know the story: there's like this medieval-fantasy world, with magic and that, but something just doesn't seem right. Wait until you're a few episodes in then *BAM*, zoom in on that weirdly-coloured sand that everyone uses to cast spells, and it's actually nanobots - perhaps even vaguely pyramid-esque nanobots - and this isn't some weird fantasy-land, but actually the remains of some ancient, advanced civilisation. OUR CIVILISATION.

Cue the characters finding out and, after much strife and turmoil, managing to create a new, wondrous culture, fusing the best of old and new. The happy couple ride off into the sunset on their genetically engineered dragons.

-The End-