Journey to the centre of the cell: nano-rods and worms wriggle best—13 September 2016

A new study by researchers at the ARC Centre of Excellence in Advanced Molecular Imaging and the ARC Centre of Excellence in Bio-Nano Science based at The University of New South Wales (UNSW)has answered a long-standing question that could lead to the design of better drug delivery vehicles: how nanoparticle shape affects the voyage through the cell.

The researchers applied a new microscopy method to drug delivery for the first time, which allowed them to track the movement of differently shaped nanoparticles through a single cultured cancer cell, with very high temporal and spatial resolution. Using this method, they were able to pinpoint where drugs were being released, and how they spread throughout the cell. They found that the cancer drug, doxorubicin, was most effective when it could breach the strong yet porous cellular barrier protecting the nucleus—the cell’s control centre. Importantly, they discovered that a nanoparticles shape influenced how well the drug breached the barrier.

‘We were able to show for the first time that nanoparticles shaped like rods and worms were more effective than spherical nanoparticles at traversing intracellular barriers and this enabled them to get all the way into the nucleus of the cell,’ said Dr Elizabeth Hinde.

Media issued by The University of New South Wales.

Image: The destruction of a cancer cell. Drug-carrying nanoparticles shaped like rods and worms are most effective at traversing intracellular barriers into the nucleus of the cell. 
Image credit: Shutterstock.

Original Published Date: 
Tuesday, September 13, 2016