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Less than 20 years after it was developed, a thin, resilient sheet of carbon atoms with remarkable properties known as graphene is transforming biomedical fields as far flung as tissue engineering, neuroprosthetics and drug discovery.
Because it readily conducts heat and electricity, graphene also may be a good biosensor. But it's not neutral. When Vanderbilt University scientists tried to use graphene to measure electrical activity in the brain, they found that it actually enhanced nerve cell signaling.
Nerve - Cell - Membranes - Cholesterol - Substance
It did so by enabling nerve cell membranes to pull in more cholesterol. The fatty substance was used to make more of the vesicles that package neurotransmitters, the chemical messengers that relay signals between nerve cells. More vesicles and more neurotransmitter meant stronger signals.
These findings, reported last week in the journal Nature Communications, came as a complete surprise to the investigators. They raise the possibility that graphene may enable researchers to change how cells communicate with each other by manipulating the cholesterol content in the cell membrane.
Graphene - Vehicle - Drugs - Way - Drug
Graphene "not only may be a very good vehicle to deliver drugs but also a way to potentiate the drug effect," said the paper's senior author, Qi Zhang, Ph.D., assistant professor of Pharmacology in the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.
The researchers began...
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