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Interaction of Nanoparticles with Biological Cells

Recent research from the group of Professor Christy Haynes.

Nanoscale materials are facilitating novel biomedical applications in the areas of therapeutics and assay development. Characterizing the basic interaction of these nanoparticles with biological cells is critical for data interpretation and further technological development. This characterization of nanoparticle-cell interaction suffers from a paucity of analytical chemistry studies and presents interesting measurement challenges based on the complex biological environment, the dynamic nature of the nanoparticle-cell interaction, and the high sensitivities required for single cell assays.

The Haynes group has recently demonstrated that carbon-fiber microelectrode amperometry can be used to assess critical cellular function of primary culture immune system cells after nanoparticle exposure. Gold nanoparticles are the focus of Haynes group studies to date based on their wide application in the areas of DNA and drug delivery, direct inhibition of cancer cell proliferation, photodynamic therapy, and as both intra- and extracellular biomarker probes. The groupsí electron microscopy and amperometry studies reveal that mast cells, a critical immune system effector cell, take up gold nanoparticles, these gold nanoparticles interrupt the granular matrix, and the disrupted matrix triggers abnormal chemical messenger secretion. Understanding the mechanistic interaction of the nanoparticle and the intracellular environment will facilitate future design and fabrication of non-cytotoxic nanoscale materials.

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