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NanoSensors Monitor Interactions Between Single-Cells in Real-Time

by Editor1 last modified August 31, 2011 - 19:33

Nano researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) have developed a platform technology for cell-signaling sensors that can monitor interactions between single cells – and in real-time. Understanding more about cell signaling events could offer many implications for treatments of disease

NanoSensors Monitor Interactions Between Single-Cells in Real-Time

The study’s preliminary data demonstrated how the BWH team’s nanoengineering approach can track and monitor the environment surrounding transplanted cells in real time, which was never before possible, according to the BWH team. The work also provides the ability to better understand complex cell biology, track transplanted cells, and develop effective therapeutics," according to Jeffrey Karp, senior study author, and co-director of the Center for Regenerative Therapeutics (ReGen Rx) at BWH.

[In the photo (at right), Weian Zhao (L) and Jeffrey Karp (R) sit beside a graphic demonstrating their novel platform technology for monitoring single-cell interactions in real time. Courtesy of Brigham and Women's Hospital.]

"We can now monitor how individual cells talk to one another in real-time with unprecedented spatial and temporal resolution,” Karp said in a statement. "This allows us to understand signaling between cells and interactions with drugs in great detail that should have broad implications for basic science and drug discovery.”

In their work, the BWH researchers used nanotechnology to anchor a sensor to the membrane of individual cells, allowing them to monitor soluble signals within the cellular environment. The cells are directly labeled with nanosensors, Karp added.

Once refined, the approach could be used to study drug interactions with cells on a regular basis and even help define appropriate therapies for individual patients, according to Weian Zhao, lead author of the study and also at BWH’s ReGen X.

"This new study takes a significant step toward the goal to eavesdrop in real-time and at high spatial resolution on communications between cells in their native environment, with far-reaching implications for the development of new drugs and diagnostics" said Ulrich von Andrian, Mallinckrodt Professor of Immunopathology at Harvard Medical School. While not involved in the study, von Andrian is a noted expert in immune sciences.

The BWH research was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the American Heart Association, and appeared published in the July 17 issue of Nature Nanotechnology.