Engineers at Carnegie Mellon University and biomedical researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and Magee-Womens Research Institute have established a framework for understanding the mechanics that underlie vesicle formation. Their findings, published in the online early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, can be used to help develop liquid biopsies for a range of diseases and to develop new drug delivery vehicles.
The researchers are collaborating on a project funded by the National Institutes of Health that is attempting to create a non-invasive diagnostic tool for pregnancy abnormalities, reducing the need for amniocentesis. During pregnancy, vesicles are released from the placenta into the mother's
The Magee researchers, led by Yoel
"Developing a comprehensive framework of how vesicles form, using fundamental principles of science and engineering, has the potential to suggest new approaches to diagnostics and therapeutics for human diseases, " said Suresh, president of Carnegie Mellon and a co-author of the research. "This study provides a quantitative understanding of the conditions under which vesicles form, which may not only help in the design of synthetic drug delivery
In biological systems,
To understand the interconnection between a vesicle's size,
Through their calculations, the researchers accurately predicted the size distribution of vesicles in a sample, with their results matching experimental results of other research groups. They also are able to predict a cup-like configuration of vesicles that has been observed experimentally, but could not be predicted on the basis of existing standard linear theory.
Developing a comprehensive framework of how vesicles form... has the potential to suggest new approaches to diagnostics and therapeutics for human diseases.Subra Suresh, President, Carnegie Mellon University
"Gaining this fundamental level of understanding allows us to see if there is a correlation between the biophysical properties and the structures of the vesicles," said Hsia, a professor of biomedical and mechanical engineering at Carnegie Mellon. "From there we can begin to derive what's going on in the system and associate the changes with disease states."
This heightened understanding of vesicles' biophysical properties means that researchers potentially can use new cell separating technologies to remove
"Our discoveries shed new light on vesicle-based non-hormonal communication among tissues," said
In addition, establishing the fundamental mechanisms behind vesicle formation provides new parameters that researchers can use to optimize the size of artificial vesicles for the creation of new drug delivery vehicles.
This research was funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (R01HD086325) and Carnegie Mellon University.