Theranostics 2017; 7(9):2417-2430. doi:10.7150/thno.19172

Research Paper

Vibrational Profiling of Brain Tumors and Cells

Sultan L Nelson2*, Dustin T Proctor1*, Ahmad Ghasemloonia1*, Sanju Lama1, Kourosh Zareinia1, Younghee Ahn3, Mustafa R Al-Saiedy2, Francis HY Green4, Matthias W Amrein2✉, Garnette R Sutherland1✉

1. Project neuroArm, Department of Clinical Neuroscience and the Hotchkiss Brain Institute, University of Calgary, 3280 Hospital Dr. NW, Calgary, AB, T2N 4Z6, Canada.
2. Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy, University of Calgary, 3280 Hospital Dr. NW, Calgary, AB, T2N 4Z6, Canada.
3. Department of Pediatrics, Alberta Children's Hospital Research Institute, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, T2N 4N1, Canada.
4. Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Calgary, 3280 Hospital Dr. NW, Calgary, AB, T2N 4Z6, Canada.
* S.L.N., D.T.P., and A.G. contributed equally to this work.

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY-NC) license ( See for full terms and conditions.
Nelson SL, Proctor DT, Ghasemloonia A, Lama S, Zareinia K, Ahn Y, Al-Saiedy MR, Green FHY, Amrein MW, Sutherland GR. Vibrational Profiling of Brain Tumors and Cells. Theranostics 2017; 7(9):2417-2430. doi:10.7150/thno.19172. Available from

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This study reports vibration profiles of neuronal cells and tissues as well as brain tumor and neocortical specimens. A contact-free method and analysis protocol was designed to convert an atomic force microscope into an ultra-sensitive microphone with capacity to record and listen to live biological samples. A frequency of 3.4 Hz was observed for both cultured rat hippocampal neurons and tissues and vibration could be modulated pharmacologically. Malignant astrocytoma tissue samples obtained from operating room, transported in artificial cerebrospinal fluid, and tested within an hour, vibrated with a much different frequency profile and amplitude, compared to meningioma or lateral temporal cortex providing a quantifiable measurement to accurately distinguish the three tissues in real-time. Vibration signals were converted to audible sound waves by frequency modulation, thus demonstrating, acoustic patterns unique to meningioma, malignant astrocytoma and neocortex.

Keywords: brain tumor, vibration, Atomic Force Microscope, metabolism, tumor margin, nanomotion detector.