Researchers Succeed in Injecting Nanodiamonds Directly to the Cell Interior

Several researchers have strangely tried to place very small diamonds within living cells. This is because nanodiamonds are constantly bright and can offer a better understanding of the inner life of cells over a long period.

Fluorescent nanodiamonds successfully injected into living cells

Video Credit: Lund University.

Physicists at Lund University in Sweden have successfully injected a huge number of nanodiamonds directly into the interior part of the cell.

Diamonds have proven precious not just for their beauty but also for their exclusively luminescent properties, at least among researchers. In contrast to other fluorescent materials, they do not bleach.

We actually think of them as a dye. In addition, they are biocompatible.

Elke Hebisch, Researcher at Solid State Physics, Lund University

In collaboration with Professor Christelle Prinz, Hebisch 'injected' fluorescent nano-sized diamonds into living cells.

As a scientist, a reporter from within a cell offers several benefits, such as acquiring new insights regarding the cell, as well as tracking what takes place inside the cell over time.

Especially the latter would be a great step forward, as it is currently possible to take snapshots of, for example, proteins in a cell, but difficult to follow changes over time.

Elke Hebisch, Researcher at Solid State Physics, Lund University

Scientists would like to know how to isolate healthy cells from diseased ones, targeting disease-causing proteins and other proteins inside a particular cell, or tracking changes in pH levels and temperature.

The understanding gained could be purely research but can also help comprehend diseases and develop drugs.

Although other scientists attempted to do the same thing, in this study the diamonds were further taken care of by the cell’s 'cleaners,' called the lysosomes, which encapsulated the foreign material quickly.

In that scenario, they are not useful since they are trapped in lysosomes and unable to interact with the cell components. Others have managed to get the diamonds into the cell one cell at a time, but that is far too time-consuming to become a realistic alternative.

Christelle Prinz, Professor, Lund University

This method could also be utilized to transfer other molecules to treat diseased cells or modify cells.

Elke Hebisch explains that the use of nanodiamonds is not costly. This is because the amounts of nanodiamonds required are extremely small. They are purchased in a bottle in which they are suspended in water and have the same price as regular antibodies.

How it Works

The researchers developed nanostraws onto a substrate. Then, they added cells on the nanostraws, and upon applying mild electrical pulses to the substrate, the 'pores' of the cell membrane were dilated and the nanodiamonds passed through the nanostraws into the cells.

The technique was motivated by a similar method that had been devised at Standford University for different use.

Journal Reference:

Hebisch, E., et al. (2021) Nanostraw‐Assisted Cellular Injection of Fluorescent Nanodiamonds via Direct Membrane Opening. Small.


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