Engineering nanostructured probes for ultra-sensitive detection of specific molecular species, our research seeks to capture the complex changes in cells and tissues that can predict disease progression in an individual. While such nanoparticle-based platforms are rapidly gaining a foothold in cancer diagnostics, one of the most concerning factors is the vulnerability of cells to the interaction with functional nanoparticles thereby raising the specter of systemic toxicity. The nanoparticles end up damaging the cells and disrupting cellular functions thereby impeding their imaging aim. Furthermore, PEGylation, and similar routes, force a tradeoff between desired nanoparticle properties (recognition, uptake, and reduced toxicity) and sensitivity of plasmon-enhanced spectroscopic sensing methods, such as surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) where the proximal presence of noble metal NP and the organic molecule of interest is key.
In this work, we report a trehalose-mediated, non-surface functionalized route for cell-nanoparticle interactions that maintains cell viability while allowing selective interaction of the nanoparticle with the cell surface receptors and subsequent internalization. Through careful electron microscopy of nanoparticle-prostate cancer cells interactions, we elucidated that there exists a dynamic equilibrium between “free” cytosolic diffusion of the nanoparticles and endocytosis through vesicle formation – and trehalose tilts the scale in favor of the latter to mask the toxic effects of the nanoparticles. The precise molecular interpretation of this behavior was further probed through SERS, which directly points towards the protein stabilization properties of trehalose mediation during interaction of the nanoparticles with the plasma membrane components.
Soumik Siddhanta and Ishan Barman, "An improved, non-functionalized route to plasmonic nanoparticle based cellular probing through osmolyte mediation (Conference Presentation)," Proc. SPIE 10078, Colloidal Nanoparticles for Biomedical Applications XII, 100780X (Presented at SPIE BiOS: January 30, 2017; Published: 24 April 2017); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2252415.5381802550001.
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