An international team of investigators based in the United States and Germany has modified the nanoscale printing technique known as dip-pen nanolithography to create large numbers of model cell membranes.
This method, published in the journal Small, could open the door to a better understanding of how the cell membrane functions and could lead to new ways of getting therapeutic drugs into cells.
Cell membranes are incredibly complex structures comprising a mixture of fatty molecules known collectively as phospholipids, proteins, and numerous other molecules, including cholesterol. These components hold each other together in a fluid manner –while the overall structure of the cell membrane is durable, the individual molecules in it are relatively free to move around within the confines of the membrane.
Chad Mirkin, Ph.D., and colleagues at Northwestern University, and Steven Lenhert, Ph.D., and his collaborators at the University of Munster in Germany, worked together on this project. Mirkin, who is the principal investigator of the Nanomaterials for Cancer Diagnostics and Therapeutics Center for Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence, invented dip-pen nanolithography, which uses an atomic force microscope to place individual molecules onto a surface, such as a glass slide or silicon chip.