Novel Way of Measuring Cellular Nanoparticles
Professor Yoon Tae-hyun (Department of Chemistry)
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Nanoparticles, which are particles with diameters at least one dimension less than 100nm, are gaining intense interest from researchers. This is due to their wide applications in diverse fields such as biomedicine, materials, and electronics. Nanoparticles in medical treatments, for example, are used as drug carriers which are introduced to the human body to deliver medicine to targeted tissues. But because the safety of nanoparticles are not yet fully proven, it is important to understand to what extent the human body can be exposed to nanoparticles. In the paper “Flow Cytometry-Based Quantiﬁcation of Cellular Au Nanoparticles”, Professor Yoon Tae-hyun (Department of Chemistry) focuses on the quantitative measurement of nanoparticles associated with mammalian cells.
With the approach of analytical chemistry, Professor Yoon and his research team utilized a technique called flow cytometry (FCM), which is already commonly used in biological and medical fields. One of its uses is to measure the number of blood (e.g. platelet, red and white blood cells) in blood samples. “While the ultimate purpose of our research is to determine whether it is hazardous to humans or not, a more detailed or fundamental subject in this specific study was to develop a method of quantitatively measuring how many nanoparticles would associate with a single mammalian cell,” explained Yoon. As it is a very micro-level research, the goal of the research is to be as simple and accurate as possible. Yoon and his team exposed cells to gold nanoparticles and measured the scattered light intensity of the cell samples using a flow cytometer.
Yoon gave the example of fine dust for easier understanding. “When there is a large amount of fine dust in the air, it is usually hard for people to have clear vision because light is scattered by fine dust particles. However, we are able to recognize the existence of nanoparticles thanks to the scattered intensity of a laser source in a flow cytometer. When nanoparticles are associated with cells, the laser beam will be scattered by the nanoparticles and the scattered intensity will be high. If there are no nanoparticles, the laser beam will not scatter but just shoot straightforward,” explained Yoon.
The main significance of the research not only comes from the fact that it tried to tackle and study fundamental characteristics of nanoparticles, but also from how Yoon and his team improved the conventional FCM technique for utilization. His team discovered the statistical relationship between the FCM-scattered light intensity of the cell samples and the number of nanoparticles associated with cells. This finding enabled Yoon's team to accurately detect and quantify the cellular association of nanoparticles.
“I think it is important to have thorough knowledge about the safety and effectiveness of the use of nanoparticles, and our research can act as a foundation for acquiring such knowledge to develop further applications. Along with the new findings, I hope our research contributes to the fusion of nanoscience and technology, along with other research areas such as biomedical fields,” said Yoon.
Yun Ji-hyun firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos by Kim Youn-soo
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