The cellular mechanical properties and changes in cell mechanics are of enormous relevance in many cellular processes and play an important role in the normal or pathological development of cells. We have developed a new technique, the dielectrophoretic stretcher, for analyzing cellular mechanical behavior by stretching cells between microelectrodes through dielectrophoresis. We obtained reliable data that allowed us to unambiguously distinguish between two cell types, one of cancerous origin (MCF-7) and the other from related non-cancerous tissue (MCF-10A). In a second step, this novel technique was integrated into a simple microsystem and was tested by stretching murine cells (Jurkat). These tests verified the compatibility of the dielectrophoretic stretcher with modern microfluidic environments. Our system can additionally be combined with dielectrophoretic manipulation units for aligning, sorting, or positioning cells. It has the potential for automation and, thus, for achieving high throughput
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