By Cameron Chai
A team of researchers at the US Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, led by Chemist Jay Groves has developed a new method to study the spatial patterns in living cells and also analyse its impact on the behaviour of living cells.
According to the research, artificial membranes that consisted of two layers of fluid lipid molecules were combined with fixed gold nanoparticle arrays to regulate the spacing between proteins and other cellular molecules that are located on the membranes.
Traditional spatial patterning methods were only able to achieve either complete mobility or no movement at all in proteins. Through this approach, scientists were able to control the movement of the lipids and rearrange molecules without affecting the properties of the cell. For the purpose of the research, the gold nanoparticle array was developed by a self assembly process that enables in spacing particles within the range of 50 to 150 nm. The gold nanoparticles measure 5-7 nm in diameter. The team led by Jay Groves was able to test the membranes successfully over breast cancer cells called as MDA-MB-231.
The scientists found out that while the cancer cells remained invisible when the cell adhesion molecules were absent, they were clearly identified when the nanoparticles and the lipid were combined with cell adhesion molecules. The team is also applying their gold nanoparticle membrane for the study of T cell immunology and cancer metastasis.