Waltzing Nanoparticles Improve Drug Screening Methods

Waltzing Nanoparticles Improve Drug Screening Methods

Researchers from Indiana University observed rotations of therapeutic nanoparticles to understand their cellular binding

A team of researchers from Indiana University found that drug-delivering nanoparticles attach to their targets in different patterns that are based upon their position of rendezvous. According to the researchers, the findings are significant since the movement of therapeutic particles while binding to receptor locations on human cells can help to determine the efficacy of drug treatments. The effectiveness of immunotherapy also relies partially on the ability to modify the strength of cellular bonds. The research was published in the journal ACS Nano on November 13, 2018.

The team introduced two nanoparticles that were dyed green and red respectively. The nanoparticles paired together to form a single imaging marker that was visible under a fluorescence microscope. This probing nanoparticles were later camouflaged with a cell membrane coating that was extracted from a T lymphocyte. The two colors enabled simultaneous observation of rotational motion of circling in place and translational motion of movement across physical space of the particle prior to attaching to the cell. The researchers observed that the particles initially showed random rotation, which was followed with rocking motion and a circling motion. The particles settled in a confined circling motion. According to Yan Yu, an assistant professor in the IU Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Chemistry, who led the study, the observation of such wide range of rotational motion along with the transition from one form to another at different points in time are pioneering findings.

Furthermore, the team was able to start connecting these different motions to different bond strengths. The synthetic particles were camouflaged with cell membranes as the immune system does not eliminate these particles as foreign objects in the same manner as conventional synthetic particles. Moreover, the use of the body’s own cell membranes states that it is not required to design complicated surface features that bind to specific cells as these features are readily present in the existing membranes. The team is focused on monitoring the waltzing of camouflaged T lymphocytes that is expected to help understand their targeted-binding to tumor cells.