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Increasing awareness of bioeffects and toxicity of nanomaterials interacting with cells puts in focus the mechanisms by which nanomaterials can cross lipid membranes. Apart from well-discussed energy-dependent endocytosis for large objects and passive diffusion through membranes by solute molecules, there are other transport mechanisms based on physical principles. A team of theoretical physics at Universitat Rovira i Virgili in Tarragona, led by Dr. Vladimir Baulin, designed a research project to investigate the interaction between nanotubes and lipid membranes. In computer simulations, the researchers studied what they call a "model bilayer" composed of only one type of lipid. Based on their calculations, the team observed that an ultra -short nanotube (10nm length) can insert perpendicularly to the lipid bilayer core.
They observed that these nanotubes stay trapped in the cell membrane, as commonly accepted by the scientific community. But when they stretched their model cell membrane, nanotubes that were trapped in the bilayer suddenly started to escape from both sides. This means that it is possible to control the transport of a nanomaterial across a cell membrane by tuning the membrane tension.
Dr - Baulin - Dr - Jean-Baptiste - Fleury
Dr. Baulin contacted Dr. Jean-Baptiste Fleury at the Saarland University (Germany) to confirm...
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