New cell membrane metrics aid in the study of disease

Megan Fink

March 10, 2011

New cell membrane metrics aid in the study of disease

MUSC researcher co-authors study published in Nature Physics

CHARLESTON -- Membranes exist in most every material, and cells depend heavily on the properties of membranes for oil retention and material strength. Until now, no one had been able to figure out how to measure membrane permeability without destroying the organismís tissue. Now non-invasive methods, such as probing with an electric current or using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can provide pertinent data.

Joseph A. Helpern, Ph.D., Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) vice chairman for radiology research and CoEE endowed chair in brain imaging co-authored a study with researchers from New York University School of Medicine on the mathematical relationship between membrane permeability and the movement of water or other molecules.

"Knowledge about cell membrane permeability can help us understand how biological tissues function when they are healthy, and more importantly, when they are not like in diseases such as cancer, stroke and multiple sclerosis, etcetera," stated Helpburn.

The paper was published in advance online March 6. Nature Physics papers published online before they have been allocated to print have a digital object identifier (DOI) number. The DOI for this paper is 10.1038/nphys1936 and can be used to retrieve the full text at

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