Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Tiny Backpacks For Cells: Polymer Patches Could Ferry Drugs, Assist In Cancer Diagnosis

Date:
November 7, 2008
Source:
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Summary:
MIT engineers have outfitted cells with tiny "backpacks" that could allow them to deliver chemotherapy agents, diagnose tumors or become building blocks for tissue engineering.

MIT researchers have developed a technique to attach tiny polymer "backpacks" to cells. This immune system cells, a B lymphocyte sports one. The scale bar is 10 micrometers.
Credit: Image courtesy of American Chemical Society

MIT engineers have outfitted cells with tiny "backpacks" that could allow them to deliver chemotherapy agents, diagnose tumors or become building blocks for tissue engineering.

Related Articles


Michael Rubner, director of MIT's Center for Materials Science and Engineering and senior author of a paper on the work that appeared online in Nano Letters on Nov. 5, said he believes this is the first time anyone has attached such a synthetic patch to a cell.

The polymer backpacks allow researchers to use cells to ferry tiny cargoes and manipulate their movements using magnetic fields. Since each patch covers only a small portion of the cell surface, it does not interfere with the cell's normal functions or prevent it from interacting with the external environment.

"The goal is to perturb the cell as little as possible," said Robert Cohen, the St. Laurent Professor of Chemical Engineering at MIT and an author of the paper.

The researchers worked with B and T cells, two types of immune cells that can home to various tissues in the body, including tumors, infection sites, and lymphoid tissues — a trait that could be exploited to achieve targeted drug or vaccine delivery.

"The idea is that we use cells as vectors to carry materials to tumors, infection sites or other tissue sites," said Darrell Irvine, an author of the paper and associate professor of materials science and engineering and biological engineering.

Cellular backpacks carrying chemotherapy agents could target tumor cells, while cells equipped with patches carrying imaging agents could help identify tumors by binding to protein markers expressed by cancer cells.

Another possible application is in tissue engineering. Patches could be designed that allow researchers to align cells in a certain pattern, eliminating the need for a tissue scaffold.

The polymer patch system consists of three layers, each with a different function, stacked onto a surface. The bottom layer tethers the polymer to the surface, the middle layer contains the payload, and the top layer serves as a "hook" that catches and binds cells.

Once the layers are set up, cells enter the system and flow across the surface, getting stuck on the polymer hooks. The patch is then detached from the surface by simply lowering the temperature, and the cells float away, with backpacks attached.

"The rest of the cell is untouched and able to interact with the environment," said Albert Swiston, lead author of the paper and a graduate student in materials science and engineering.

The researchers found that T cells with backpacks were able to perform their normal functions, including migrating across a surface, just as they would without anything attached.

By loading the backpacks with magnetic nanoparticles, the researchers can control the cells' movement with a magnetic field.

Because the polymer synthesis and assembly takes place before the patches are attached to cells, there is plenty of opportunity to tweak the process to improve the polymers' effectiveness and ensure they won't be toxic to cells, the researchers say.

Other authors of the paper are Soong Ho Um, a postdoctoral associate in the Departments of Materials Science and Engineering and Biological Engineering, and Connie Cheng, a recent Harvard graduate.

The research was funded by the National Science Foundation Materials Research Science and Engineering Center and an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "Tiny Backpacks For Cells: Polymer Patches Could Ferry Drugs, Assist In Cancer Diagnosis." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 November 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081106122417.htm>.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. (2008, November 7). Tiny Backpacks For Cells: Polymer Patches Could Ferry Drugs, Assist In Cancer Diagnosis. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081106122417.htm
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "Tiny Backpacks For Cells: Polymer Patches Could Ferry Drugs, Assist In Cancer Diagnosis." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081106122417.htm (accessed November 24, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Monday, November 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Newsy (Nov. 23, 2014) Millions of American suffer from seasonal depression every year. It can lead to adverse health effects, but there are ways to ease symptoms. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Late Cocoa Leaves Bitter Taste

Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Late Cocoa Leaves Bitter Taste

AFP (Nov. 23, 2014) The arable district of Kenema in Sierra Leone -- at the centre of the Ebola outbreak in May -- has been under quarantine for three months as the cocoa harvest comes in. Duration: 01:32 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Don't Fall For Flu Shot Myths

Don't Fall For Flu Shot Myths

Newsy (Nov. 23, 2014) Misconceptions abound when it comes to your annual flu shot. Medical experts say most people older than 6 months should get the shot. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
WFP: Ebola Risks Heightened Among Women Throughout Africa

WFP: Ebola Risks Heightened Among Women Throughout Africa

AFP (Nov. 21, 2014) Having children has always been a frightening prospect in Sierra Leone, the world's most dangerous place to give birth, but Ebola has presented an alarming new threat for expectant mothers. Duration: 00:37 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins