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Nanoscale method for investigating living systems

e of less than 10 nanometers are making them increasingly popular in biomedical applications ranging from intracellular tagging of molecules to applications such as tracking devices for neuronal receptors and as interfaces between nerve cells. Researchers have labeled the dots with isotopes, injected them into mice and then tracked them with tomography.

The Wisconsin engineering team set out to use optical tagging or labeling of membrane pores in order to visualize their function and simultaneously measure their current/voltage relationship. "What we found was that quantum dots formed their own pores, which in the long run could mean that we could combine optical activity and readout with direct-current recording of cellular activity," says Blick. Because these artificial pores elicit bursts of current in the artificial membranes, the team believes quantum dots could perform similarly in other excitable cells such as neurons and muscles, and looks forward to understanding how the dots behave in vivo in excitable cells. The researchers will look next into properties that cause the artificial pores to open and close.


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Source:University of Wisconsin


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