NSTI Nanotech 2009

Understanding and controlling nanoparticle protein associations

D.N. Benoit, Y. Shamoo, V.L. Colvin
Rice University, US

Keywords: nanoparticle, HSA, protein interaction, analytical ultracentrifuge, protein crystallization


Nanomaterials are finding a multitude of applications in medicine. Their small size and unique properties make them promising materials for everything from insulin drug delivery to early detection of cancer. In all of these examples, a crucial step is to get the nanoparticles into the body and ultimately to their destination whether that be diseased tissue or an area needing to be lit up for imaging. This requires exquisite control over both the nanoparticle size and its surface character. The reason is that even though these systems are very tiny, much smaller than a human blood cell, the body has many biological barriers that they must overcome to be widely accessible. The skin, the liver, the kidneys, the blood-brain barrier each of these essentially can prevent transport of nanoparticles depending on their size and surface charge. Unfortunately, the rules for designing materials to overcome these barriers are not yet known. Moreover, once nanoparticles are in an organism they can interact with biomolecules changing their size and surface charge. Nanomedicine needs well-defined design principles for creating nanoparticles that do, and do not, interact with various biomolecules. Such predictive models must be based on systematic studies of nanoparticles and common biomolecules such as proteins. This research uses newly developed tools to evaluate what proteins stick to nanoparticle surfaces, why they interact, and how to design interfaces that direct these interactions.
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