Cell Death explained and a TRPS Competition

Tuesday, July 14, 2015
 Andrew Devitt and Allan Cameron, University of Aston

We are pleased to present to all our visitors two interesting articles on the TRPS technology.

The first one is about cell death, it explains how cells die every minute, millions of them. These cells need to be replaced, because they're damaged, diseased, or simply unwanted. Dying cells release a stream of vesicles, Those vesicles attract phagocytic cells, sending them a signal and guiding them in eating diseased, damaged or unwanted cells. IZON's TRPS technology allowed the Aston University researchers to achieve more effective characterisation and greater precision for their studies

The other article is about a competition that has taken place at the Loughborough University. 8 undergraduate students from the Department of Chemistry at Loughborough University participated in a competition which involved understanding the applications of TRPS, and submitting individual reports with their findings. The results are some very interesting papers that explain different ways and different advantages of working with the TRPS technology.

Cell death explained

Every minute, millions of cells die within our bodies through a process known as apoptosis. This strictly regulated cell death is essential to life. It controls essential functions such as development and immune responses through the removal of cells that are diseased, damaged or simply unwanted. However, for this process to be useful dying cells must be tracked down and eaten by phagocytic cells. If dying cells are not eaten rapidly, they fall apart and cause unwanted inflammation and disease. Researchers at Aston University, led by Dr Andrew Devitt are focused on understanding the detailed mechanisms that mediate this 'find and delete' process.

One of the key findings is that the dying cells release streams of vesicles, very small biological particles that the phagocytes follow back to the source, i.e. the dying cell.

These Apoptotic cell-derived extracellular vesicles (ACdEV) are released as cells undergo apoptosis and Aston researchers have shown that released ACdEV play an important role in the cell to cell communication that is essential to the process. These vesicles display molecules such as ICAM-3 and other signals on their surface that attract macrophages to sites of cell death. They act effectively as a taster for the main course that is the apoptotic cell corpse.

Allan Cameron works within a team of researchers headed by Dr Andrew Devitt and Prof Yvonne Perrie, based at the School of Life and Health Sciences, Aston University in Birmingham, UK. This team is undertaking the first comprehensive structure-function analysis of ACdEV. As a potential significant part of apoptosis, an anti-inflammatory process - extracellular vesicles may yield a novel therapeutic or help improve encapsulation methods for drug delivery.

Effective ACdEV characterisation by the group’s qNano provides a detailed insight into vesicle production during apoptosis. This information is being linked with a range of in vitro and in vivo functional assays to define the structure-function significance of EVs in apoptosis. The ability to correlate data gained from the qNano and other equipment with the immunomodulatory action of ACdEV will be a significant advance in the field. Tunable Resistive Pulse Sensing (TRPS) allows for more effective characterisation and greater precision to facilitate a more comprehensive study.

The Devitt Lab is a world leader in the field of apoptotic cell clearance and inflammation, rapidly expanding in its reach with significant new Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) funding focusing on ACdEV, awarded in 2015.

Loughborough University research project gets undergraduate students fired up

8 undergraduate students from the Department of Chemistry at Loughborough University participated in a competition which involved understanding the applications of TRPS, and submitting individual reports with their findings.The students spent 2 weeks working on the qNano on topics of their choice, supervised by Dr Mark Platt. The reports were assessed by Scientists at Izon and winners were announced. Karl Goddard was declared winner of the challenge at Loughborough on Wednesday, 10 June, 2015. William Oakley and Nguya Lupindula were chosen as runners-up. The prizes were handed out by Hans Van Der Voorn, CEO, Izon Science.

Karl’s project report titled, ‘qNano - a robust and intuitive instrument capable of modernising the high school science laboratory,’ investigates the challenges faced by school students in accessing laboratory equipment. The qNano could be instrumental in facilitating access to introduce students to a wide range of experiments in schools. The prize winning report can be viewed here.

Runners-up, William Oakley and Nguya Lupindula submitted reports on, ‘TRPS as a method for detection of milk spoilage,’ and, ‘Analysis of protein-nanoparticle interactions using TRPS,’ respectively.

Other topics studied by the participants included: ‘The effect of time on milk sample measured with a qNano instrument,’ ‘Investigating the use of TRPS to study the growth of escherichia coli,’ 'Qualitative and quantitative analysis of nanoparticles in solution using a resistive pulse sensor,’ and, ‘Use of TRPS for milk characterisation.'

Dr Mark Platt and his team of researchers use the qNano for precise characterisation of nanoparticles. The particles are functionalised with pieces of DNA to allow them to bind to biological targets. Measurement of changes in the particles size, and charge allows the quantification of the presence of key biomarkers in solution forming the basis of a bioassay.

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