ARLINGTON - UT Arlington researchers are
using focused laser beams to manipulate cells that lead drug-carrying
nanoparticles that deliver medicine to cancer cells that need it.
Samarendra Mohanty, assistant
professor of physics, and Kytai
Nguyen, associate professor of bioengineering, are part of the collaborative research effort in
The University of Texas at Arlington’s Biophysics and Physiology Lab.
Those focused laser beams are
called optical tweezers and are used in cell manipulation.
The team has tested the process
at the microscopic level using human cells and will present the research at the
March meeting of American Physical Society in Dallas.
Nguyen said results from this
research would help investigators design nanoparticles that have more
therapeutic benefits while reducing severe side effects often seen in
“A focused laser holds the cell.
We then use a force against the cell to measure the single cell’s elasticity,”
Mohanty said. Elasticity measures how much that cell can stretch. “A cancer
cell is normally more brittle, so those can be identified. A nanoparticle
carrying a drug is then introduced with the optical tweezers.”
Nguyen said how these
nanoparticles interact with the cell gives the researchers valuable information
about the cell.
“We can coat them with an
antibody that is bound to diseased cells and deliver drugs to only these cells
to treat illnesses,” Nguyen said.
Mohanty also is working in the
field of optogenetics, an emerging field using low-power light to stimulate
neuronal cells. Mohanty said those specific genetically targeted neurons are
stimulated with a micro LED (light emitting diode).
He said there has been some
success using optogenetics to treat retinitis pigmentosa, an eye disease in
which there is loss of vision due to degeneration of photoreceptors in retina.
The optical tweezers and
optogenetics research projects are representative
of the cutting-edge innovations taking place at The University of Texas at
Arlington, a comprehensive research institution of 33,800 students in the heart
of North Texas. Visit www.uta.edu to learn more.
The University of Texas at Arlington is an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action employer.