Nanoparticles (NPs) are materials with overall dimensions in the nano scale range (5nm-100nm). Due to their unique physicochemical properties, they have found a wide range of applications and are currently explored as drug and gene delivery vehicles. The mechanism by which NPs are taken up by cells has important implications for their fate and their impact on biological systems. The routes of uptake taken by a specific NP depend on surface charge and shape and determine if NP have inflammatory or toxic effects. Awareness of these effects is an important aspect in the use of NPs in biomedical applications and tailoring the particles for drug delivery ensuring their biosafety.
The aim of the project is to analyse the uptake and intracellular routes of NPs in clinical relevant cell types to establish their potential as drug delivery vehicles. Carbon nanotubes, magnetic particles and gold nanoparticles uptake by immune and cancer cells will be studied by measuring the NPs’ interaction with the cell membrane, their intracellular fate and their effect on signal transduction by high-resolution live cell microscopy, total internal reflection microscopy, Raman spectroscopy and quantitative ELISA. Cytokine release will be measured by microarray and qPCR. Cellular organelles containing NPs will be purified after uptake and their protein content analysed by mass spectrometry. RNAi technology will be employed to verify candidate proteins involved in NP uptake.