Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors



Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


android tablet pc

Home > Press > A shot to the heart: Nanoneedle Deliver Quantum Dots to Cell Nucleus

Photo by
L. Brian Stauffer

Min-Feng Yu, a professor of mechanical science and engineering, led the team that has developed a tiny needle to deliver a shot right to a cell’s nucleus.
Photo by L. Brian Stauffer

Min-Feng Yu, a professor of mechanical science and engineering, led the team that has developed a tiny needle to deliver a shot right to a cell’s nucleus.

Abstract:
Getting an inside look at the center of a cell can be as easy as a needle prick, thanks to University of Illinois researchers who have developed a tiny needle to deliver a shot right to a cell's nucleus.

A shot to the heart: Nanoneedle Deliver Quantum Dots to Cell Nucleus

Champaign, IL | Posted on September 27th, 2010

Understanding the processes inside the nucleus of a cell, which houses DNA and is the site for transcribing genes, could lead to greater comprehension of genetics and the factors that regulate expression. Scientists have used proteins or dyes to track activity in the nucleus, but those can be large and tend to be sensitive to light, making them hard to use with simple microscopy techniques.

Researchers have been exploring a class of nanoparticles called quantum dots, tiny specks of semiconductor material only a few molecules big that can be used to monitor microscopic processes and cellular conditions. Quantum dots offer the advantages of small size, bright fluorescence for easy tracking, and excellent stability in light.

"Lots of people rely on quantum dots to monitor biological processes and gain information about the cellular environment. But getting quantum dots into a cell for advanced applications is a problem," said professor Min-Feng Yu, a professor of mechanical science and engineering.

Getting any type of molecule into the nucleus is even trickier, because it's surrounded by an additional membrane that prevents most molecules in the cell from entering.

Yu worked with fellow mechanical science and engineering professor Ning Wang and postdoctoral researcher Kyungsuk Yum to develop a nanoneedle that also served as an electrode that could deliver quantum dots directly into the nucleus of a cell - specifically to a pinpointed location within the nucleus. The researchers can then learn a lot about the physical conditions inside the nucleus by monitoring the quantum dots with a standard fluorescent microscope.

"This technique allows us to physically access the internal environment inside a cell," Yu said. "It's almost like a surgical tool that allows us to ‘operate' inside the cell."

The group coated a single nanotube, only 50 nanometers wide, with a very thin layer of gold, creating a nanoscale electrode probe. They then loaded the needle with quantum dots. A small electrical charge releases the quantum dots from the needle. This provides a level of control not achievable by other molecular delivery methods, which involve gradual diffusion throughout the cell and into the nucleus.

"Now we can use electrical potential to control the release of the molecules attached on the probe," Yu said. "We can insert the nanoneedle in a specific location and wait for a specific point in a biologic process, and then release the quantum dots. Previous techniques cannot do that."

Because the needle is so small, it can pierce a cell with minimal disruption, while other injection techniques can be very damaging to a cell. Researchers also can use this technique to accurately deliver the quantum dots to a very specific target to study activity in certain regions of the nucleus, or potentially other cellular organelles.

"Location is very important in cellular functions," Wang said. "Using the nanoneedle approach you can get to a very specific location within the nucleus. That's a key advantage of this method."
The new technique opens up new avenues for study. The team hopes to continue to refine the nanoneedle, both as an electrode and as a molecular delivery system.

They hope to explore using the needle to deliver other types of molecules as well - DNA fragments, proteins, enzymes and others - that could be used to study a myriad of cellular processes.

"It's an all-in-one tool," Wang said. "There are three main types of processes in the cell: chemical, electrical, and mechanical. This has all three: It's a mechanical probe, an electrode, and a chemical delivery system."

The team's findings will appear in the Oct. 4 edition of the journal Small. The National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation supported this work.

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Liz Ahlberg
Physical Sciences Editor
217-244-1073


Min-Feng Yu
217-333-9246


Ning Wang
217-265-0913

Copyright © University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

Scientists reveal breakthrough in optical fiber communications December 21st, 2014

Atom-thick CCD could capture images: Rice University scientists develop two-dimensional, light-sensitive material December 20th, 2014

Oregon researchers glimpse pathway of sunlight to electricity: Collaboration with Lund University uses modified UO spectroscopy equipment to study 'maze' of connections in photoactive quantum dots December 19th, 2014

Instant-start computers possible with new breakthrough December 19th, 2014

Nanomedicine

Creation of 'Rocker' protein opens way for new smart molecules in medicine, other fields December 18th, 2014

Iranian Researchers Produce Electrical Pieces Usable in Human Body December 18th, 2014

Unraveling the light of fireflies December 17th, 2014

First Home-Made Edible Herbal Nanodrug Presented to Pharmacies across Iran December 17th, 2014

Discoveries

Scientists reveal breakthrough in optical fiber communications December 21st, 2014

Atom-thick CCD could capture images: Rice University scientists develop two-dimensional, light-sensitive material December 20th, 2014

Oregon researchers glimpse pathway of sunlight to electricity: Collaboration with Lund University uses modified UO spectroscopy equipment to study 'maze' of connections in photoactive quantum dots December 19th, 2014

Instant-start computers possible with new breakthrough December 19th, 2014

Announcements

Scientists reveal breakthrough in optical fiber communications December 21st, 2014

Atom-thick CCD could capture images: Rice University scientists develop two-dimensional, light-sensitive material December 20th, 2014

Oregon researchers glimpse pathway of sunlight to electricity: Collaboration with Lund University uses modified UO spectroscopy equipment to study 'maze' of connections in photoactive quantum dots December 19th, 2014

Instant-start computers possible with new breakthrough December 19th, 2014

Quantum Dots/Rods

Oregon researchers glimpse pathway of sunlight to electricity: Collaboration with Lund University uses modified UO spectroscopy equipment to study 'maze' of connections in photoactive quantum dots December 19th, 2014

Scientists trace nanoparticles from plants to caterpillars: Rice University study examines how nanoparticles behave in food chain December 16th, 2014

TCL Launches World’s Most Advanced TV in the World’s Largest Market: New Quantum Dot TVs with Color IQ™ Optics Deliver OLED-Quality Color at a Fraction of the Price December 15th, 2014

Electron pairs on demand: Controlled emission and spatial splitting of electron pairs demonstrated December 4th, 2014

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE




  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More










ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project







© Copyright 1999-2014 7th Wave, Inc. All Rights Reserved PRIVACY POLICY :: CONTACT US :: STATS :: SITE MAP :: ADVERTISE