Dunking Doughnuts Into Cells | Chemical & Engineering News
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Web Date: July 1, 2008

Dunking Doughnuts Into Cells

Doughnut-shaped polymeric particles could be used as cellular tags and for drug delivery
Department: Science & Technology
News Channels: Materials SCENE
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GREEN LIGHT SPECIAL
Confocal microscope image of a fluorescently labeled microdoughnut.
Credit: Chem. Commun.
b805323e-f4small
 
GREEN LIGHT SPECIAL
Confocal microscope image of a fluorescently labeled microdoughnut.
Credit: Chem. Commun.

Rather than dunking their doughnuts in coffee, researchers in Scotland have found a way to dunk polymeric doughnuts into cells (Chem. Commun., DOI: 10.1039/b805323e). The doughnut-shaped microparticles, complete with a hole in the middle, selectively cross cell membranes and could potentially be used as cellular tags for imaging purposes or to deliver drugs directly to the liver.

To create the particles, a team led by Mark Bradley at the University of Edinburgh used a dispersion technique to copolymerize styrene, divinylbenzene, and aminomethylstyrene in ethanol with 5% dioxane. Once the microdoughnuts reached a certain size, they precipitated out of solution. The polymerization produced highly uniform particles that measure about 3.2 µm in diameter with a 1-µm hole in the center. The microdoughnuts retain the amino functional group distributed throughout the structure, which could provide a handle for attaching fluorophores or drugs.

The doughnuts were highly selective for human embryonic kidney cells, the researchers found, and during in vivo mouse testing, the doughnuts were exclusively localized to liver cells with no signs of toxicity.

 
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