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U.K. Research Team First to View 'Maps' of Buckeyballs, Fullerines in Human Cells

by Editor1 last modified January 17, 2008 - 20:28

A team of researchers at the Nanoscience Centre at the University of Cambridge in the U.K. are reportedly the first to observe the uptake of fullerines or buckeyballs (C60 particles) into a human cell. The views were made possible with the use of Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM). The TEM images show “cloudlike tomographic maps” of materials inside the human cell, and evidence that C60 particles were taken up into the cytoplasm and nuclei of human macrophage cells.

U.K. Research Team First to View 'Maps' of Buckeyballs, Fullerines in Human Cells

TEM view of in vitro fullerines: University of Cambrdige

The Cambridge Team's Work and Roadmap
The team, led by Alexandra Porter, published its work at Environmental Science & Technology’s Research ASAP. Now that the Cambridge team has shown its method works for in vitro samples, it will move on to in vivo experiments, Dr. Porter said. The purpose will be to look for functional consequences of exposure. Even though the researchers can map nanoparticles inside cells “we now have to back this up with toxicity assays, and that’s when it becomes important,” she told ES&T. In the images to date, Dr. Porter’s team has found in vitro human macrophages take up C60 and then sequester the particles mainly in the cytoplasm, lysosomes and the cells’ nuclei.

Observers praised the accomplishment of the University of Cambridge team, noting the difficulty of being able to pull out a signal for buckyballs and carbon different from the carbon in the cell.

Collaborating on the work were Daresbury Laboratory, the University of Cambridge’s Multi-imaging Centre, and Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy.

"Visualizing the Uptake of C60 to the Cytoplasm and Nucleus of Human Monocyte-Derived Macrophage Cells Using Energy-Filtered Transmission Electron Microscopy and Electron Tomographys" Accepted for publicatin at ACS in January 2007.