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'Body Electric' Strikes A Nerve: Liposome Finding Implies Electrical Effect On Cell Development

Date:
March 31, 2005
Source:
Arizona State University
Summary:
New findings have revealed that there may be a piece of real nervy truth in the phrase “the body electric.” Experiments with liposomes – cell-like “water balloons” composed of artificially created phospholipid bilayers, similar to natural cell membranes – have revealed unexpected behavior in the presence of electrical fields.
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New findings have revealed that there may be a piece of real nervy truth in the phrase “the body electric.”

Experiments with liposomes – cell-like “water balloons” composed of artificially created phospholipid bilayers, similar to natural cell membranes – have revealed unexpected behavior in the presence of electrical fields.

The findings could provide a paradigm-shifting change in science’s understanding of biomembrane function in operating living systems.

ASU chemists Mark Hayes and Michele Pysher have found that liposomes have a tendency to form tube-like extensions in their membranes through the influence of local electrical fields. In particular, the surprising finding of such electrically caused bionanotubule formation could reveal a previously unknown process involved in the development of structures like axons and dendrites in nerve cells.

Hayes presented the results of the experiments March 15 in a session titled “Colloids in Complex Fluids” at the American Chemical Society meeting in San Diego.

In the experiments, the researchers placed liposomes in a droplet of water and applied very low electric fields (five to 10 volts per centimeter), much lower than the fields present in operating neurons (a fraction of a volt but operating over a very short distance – less than a micron – to produce a field up to 1,000 times stronger). In images achieved through optical and scanning electron microscopy, microtubules were observed to immediately form and extend from the phospholipid balloon, like a seed putting forth a stalk or root.

Hayes believes that the phenomena may have significant implications for cellular biology and for nanotechnology.

“This finding might not only be important in its application to understanding life processes, but it has a potentially exciting practical application in the fabrication of bionanotubes,” he says.


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Cite This Page:

Arizona State University. "'Body Electric' Strikes A Nerve: Liposome Finding Implies Electrical Effect On Cell Development." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 March 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/03/050329140648.htm>.
Arizona State University. (2005, March 31). 'Body Electric' Strikes A Nerve: Liposome Finding Implies Electrical Effect On Cell Development. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 21, 2024 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/03/050329140648.htm
Arizona State University. "'Body Electric' Strikes A Nerve: Liposome Finding Implies Electrical Effect On Cell Development." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/03/050329140648.htm (accessed April 21, 2024).

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