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January 12th, 2005

Tiny tools tackle malaria

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, have shown how tiny tools can help address big problems in this case, understanding malaria.

Subra Suresh, head of the institute's department of materials science and engineering, has led a study using 'optical tweezers' to show how the elasticity of red blood cells changes when they are infected with the malaria parasite.

Optical tweezers are an example of a nanotechnology tool. After fixing miniscule beads of the mineral silica to opposite sides of a red blood cell, then focusing a laser beam on each one, researchers can move the beads and stretch the cells by moving the lasers.


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