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January 12th, 2005
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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