UT Researchers Receive $1.5M Grant to Build Technology to Study Cell Communications

The National Institutes of Health has given University of Texas researchers a $1.5 million grant to create technology to study how cells interact with each other to help create treatments for viruses.

Hongru Ding, a mechanical engineering graduate student and member of the research team, said the team is using laser beams to force two cells to touch each other and measure the strength of the force interaction between them.

“The ability of a cell to attack a virus is determined by the strength of the interaction,” said Yuebing Zheng, principal investigator of the study. “Being able to quantify these interactions will allow us to understand how viruses attack our body and develop better drugs to fight viruses.”

Zheng, an associate professor of mechanical engineering, said researchers typically use a method in which they combine two cells multiple times and analyze the frequency at which the cells attach to each other.

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