Phagocytosis study: surprising discovery

March 21, 2006

University of California-Santa Barbara scientists say they've made a surprising discovery: phagocytosis depends more on particle shape than size.

The research has far-reaching implications for immunology, vaccine development and drug delivery, said Samir Mitragotri, a professor of chemical engineering, and graduate student Julie Champion.

Phagocytosis, a key part of the body's immune system, depends on macrophages, which find and frequently remove particles from the body. The UCSB scientists said previous studies were performed only with spherical samples because it was presumed size was the main issue in phagocytosis.

The researchers used macrophages from alveolar rat tissue and developed polystyrene particles of various sizes and shapes as model targets. Scanning electron microscopy and time-lapse video microscopy were employed to study the action of the macrophages when presented with targets of varying shapes.

Mitragotri said the discovery might eventually allow researchers to design drug carriers that can be purposefully retained by the body for a longer period of time, or help create vaccines that would be quickly removed to stimulate a rapid immune response.

The study appears online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and will be published in print March 28.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: New insights into latent HIV infections

Related Stories

New insights into latent HIV infections

September 26, 2016

In spite of ever more effective therapies, HIV keeps managing to survive in the body. A comprehensive project conducted by the Austrian Science Fund FWF has clarified the molecular processes which contribute to this effect. ...

Old drug holds promise against opportunistic lung bug

August 19, 2010

A drug to treat inflammation plays a surprising role reducing the level of infection caused by an opportunistic bug that is deadly for AIDS and cancer patients and others with weakened immune systems.

'Clogged-up' immune cells help explain smoking risk for TB

March 24, 2016

Smoking increases an individual's risk of developing tuberculosis (TB) - and makes the infection worse - because it causes vital immune cells to become clogged up, slowing their movement and impeding their ability to fight ...

Nanodiamond coatings safe for implants: study

February 5, 2012

Nanodiamonds designed to toughen artificial joints also might prevent the inflammation caused when hardworking metal joints shed debris into the body, according to an early study published this week in the journal Acta Biomaterialia.

Recommended for you

Swiss firm acquires Mars One private project

December 2, 2016

A British-Dutch project aiming to send an unmanned mission to Mars by 2018 announced Friday that the shareholders of a Swiss financial services company have agreed a takeover bid.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.