Investigating the growth signatures of single cells will determine how cell growth is regulated and cell size is maintained. The ability to precisely measure such changes and alterations in cell size and cell mass could be important for applications in cancer and drug screening. Here, we measure the mass growth rate of individual benign (MCF-10A), non-invasive (MCF-7), and highly-invasive malignant (MDA-MB-231) breast cancer cells. A micro-patterning technique was employed to allow for the long-term growth of motile cells. Results show mass growth rates at 4.8%, 1.2%, and 2.8% for MCF-10A, MCF-7, and MDA-MB-231, demonstrating that normal cells have a higher mass growth rate than cancerous cells. All the cell lines show an increase in mass change rate indicating that the mass accumulation rate is exponential over a single cell cycle. The growth rates measured with our MEMS sensor are compared with doubling times obtained through conventional bulk analysis techniques, and exhibit excellent agreement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number10
JournalBiomedical microdevices
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017


  • Breast cancer
  • Cell growth rate
  • Cell micromechanics
  • MEMS mass sensor
  • Resonant frequency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Molecular Biology


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