Navigation Links
Magnetic nano-'shepherds' organize cells

DURHAM, N.C. -- The power of magnetism may address a major problem facing bioengineers as they try to create new tissue -- getting human cells to not only form structures, but to stimulate the growth of blood vessels to nourish that growth.

A multidisciplinary team of investigators from Duke University, Case Western Reserve University and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst created an environment where magnetic particles suspended within a specialized solution act like molecular sheep dogs. In response to external magnetic fields, the shepherds nudge free-floating human cells to form chains which could potentially be integrated into approaches for creating human tissues and organs.

The cells not only naturally adhere to each other upon contact, the researchers said, but the aligned cellular configurations may promote or accelerate the creation and growth of tiny blood vessels.

"We have developed an exciting way of using magnetism to manipulate human cells floating freely in a solution containing magnetic nanoparticles" said Randall Erb, fourth-year graduate student in the laboratory of Benjamin Yellen, assistant professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science, at Duke University's Pratt School of Engineering. "This new cell assembly process holds much promise for tissue engineering research and offers a novel way to organize cells in an inexpensive, easily accessible way."

Melissa Krebs, third-year biomedical engineering graduate student at Case Western and Erb's sister, co-authored a paper appearing online in advance of the May publication of Nano Letters, a journal published by the American Chemical Society.

"The cells have receptors on their surfaces that have an affinity for other cells," Krebs said. "They become sticky and attach to each other. When endothelial cells get together in a linear fashion, as they did in our experiments, it may help them to organize into tiny tubules."

The iron-containing nanoparticles used by the researchers are suspended within a liquid known as a ferrofluid. One of the unique properties of these ferrofluids is that they become highly magnetized in the presence of external magnetism, which allows researchers to readily manipulate the chain formation by altering the strength of the magnetic field.

At the end of the process, the nanoparticles are simply washed away, leaving a linear chain of cells. That the cells remain alive, healthy and relatively unaltered without any harmful effects from the process is one of the major advances of the new approach over other strategies using magnetism.

"Others have tried using magnetic particles either within or on the surface of the cells," Erb said. "However, the iron in the nanoparticles can be toxic to cells. Also, the process of removing the nanoparticles afterward can be harmful to the cell and its function."

The key ingredient for these studies was the synthesis of non-toxic ferrofluids by colleagues Bappaditya Samanta and Vincent Rotello at the University of Massachusetts, who developed a method for coating the magnetic nanoparticles with bovine serum albumin (BSA), a protein derived from cow blood. BSA is a stable protein used in many experiments because it is biochemically inert. In these experiments, the BSA shielded the cells from the toxic iron.

"The other main benefit of our approach is that we are creating three-dimensional cell chains without any sophisticated techniques or equipment," Krebs said. "Any type of tissue we'd ultimately want to engineer will have to be three-dimensional."

For their experiments, the researchers used human umbilical vein endothelial cells. Others types of cells have also been used, and it appears to the researchers that this new approach can work with any type of cell.

"While still in the early stages, we have shown that we can form oriented cellular structures," said Eben Alsberg, assistant professor of Biomedical Engineering and Orthopedic Surgery at Case Western and senior author of the paper. "The next step is to see if the spatial arrangement of these cells in three dimensions will promote vascular formation. A major hurdle in tissue engineering has been vascularization, and we hope that this technology may help to address the problem."


Contact: Richard Merritt
Duke University

Related biology news :

1. Magnetic snakes control fluids, gravity-defying droplets, and solving a dragonfly mystery
2. Do migratory birds see the magnetic field?
3. New magnetic separation technique might detect multiple pathogens at once
4. New system would use rotating magnetic field to detect pathogens
5. UVa biomedical engineering study shows magnetic field can reduce swelling
6. Biomagnetics developed for use in new breast cancer tests
7. Researchers mimic bacteria to produce magnetic nanoparticles
8. Caltech geobiologists discover unique magnetic death star fossil
9. Electromagnetic phantom exorcises specters of metal detector tests
10. Magnetic nanoparticles navigate therapeutic genes through the body
11. Changing environment organizes genetic structure
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Magnetic nano-'shepherds' organize cells
(Date:11/18/2015)... PHILADELPHIA , Nov. 18, 2015  As new ... in children, doctors and other healthcare providers face challenges ... counsel families and patients. In addition, as more children ... into a patient,s adulthood and old age. ... The Children,s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) . ...
(Date:11/17/2015)... 17, 2015 Paris ... --> Paris , qui s,est ... DERMALOG, le leader de l,innovation biométrique, a inventé le ... et empreintes sur la même surface de balayage. Jusqu,ici, ... l,autre pour les empreintes digitales. Désormais, un seul scanner ...
(Date:11/16/2015)... JOSE, Calif. , Nov 16, 2015 /PRNewswire/ ... developer of human interface solutions, today announced expansion ... Synaptics TouchView ™ touch controller and display ... architectural revolution of smartphones. These new TDDI products ... include TD4100 (HD resolution), TD4302 (WQHD resolution), and ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/25/2015)... , ... November 25, 2015 , ... ... uBiome, were featured on AngelList early in their initial angel funding process. Now, ... syndicate for individuals looking to make early stage investments in the microbiome space. ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... DIEGO , Nov. 24, 2015 Halozyme Therapeutics, Inc. ... Healthcare Conference in New York on Wednesday, ... Helen Torley , president and CEO, will provide a corporate ... New York at 1:00 p.m. ET/10:00 a.m. PT ... and investor relations, will provide a corporate overview. --> ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... QUEBEC CITY , Nov. 24, 2015 /PRNewswire/ - ... the request of IIROC on behalf of the Toronto ... this news release there are no corporate developments that ... price. --> --> ... --> . --> Aeterna Zentaris ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... ... The Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA), led by its Executive Council, has officially ... to represent the First–Person View (FPV) racing community. , FPV racing has exploded in ... racing and several new model aviation pilots have joined the community because of their ...
Breaking Biology Technology: