Sound wave discovery could improve stem cell therapy and nebuliser technology

Cosmos Magazine


Cosmos is a quarterly science magazine. We aim to inspire curiosity in ‘The Science of Everything’ and make the world of science accessible to everyone.

By Cosmos

For the first time in nearly 50 years, a new class of sound wave has been discovered that could lead to a revolution in stem cells therapies and nebuliser technology.

Known as “surface reflected bulk waves” they are created by combining two different types of sound waves, known as bulk and surface waves. 

“The combination of surface and bulk wave means they work in harmony and produce a much more powerful wave,” says co-author Dr Amgad Rezk, of the Micro/Nano Research Laboratory at RMIT University in Melbourne.

When applied to stem cells, the researchers were able to manipulate the delicate cells without causing damage. This opens up the potential for more advanced types of stem cell therapy.

The waves have other applications, such as turning liquids into a fine vapour.

“It’s basically ‘yelling’ at the liquid so it vibrates, breaking it down into vapour,” said Rezk.

While typical nebulizers take up to 30 minutes to administer a dosage, the new waves cut this time to as little as 30 seconds.

“Instead of administering or nebulising medicine at around 0.2 ml per minute, we did up to 5 ml per minute. That’s a huge difference.”

When used in conjunction with the new Respite nebuliser, developed by RMIT, it offers a cheap and lightweight way of delivering everything ranging form insulin for diabetes suffers to vaccinations in infants without the use of a needle.

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