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: A breakthrough in nanotoxicology

Related Stories

A breakthrough in nanotoxicology

February 18, 2015

Whereas resistance to antibiotics complicates certain treatments, antimicrobial silver nanoparticles (AgNP) are gaining popularity for medical use. These particles are toxic for certain bacteria, but what about for humans? ...

'Stealth' nanoparticles could improve cancer vaccines

October 1, 2014

Cancer vaccines have recently emerged as a promising approach for killing tumor cells before they spread. But so far, most clinical candidates haven't worked that well. Now, scientists have developed a new way to deliver ...

Recommended for you

Seeing quantum motion

August 28, 2015

Consider the pendulum of a grandfather clock. If you forget to wind it, you will eventually find the pendulum at rest, unmoving. However, this simple observation is only valid at the level of classical physics—the laws ...

Just how good (or bad) is the fossil record of dinosaurs?

August 28, 2015

Everyone is excited by discoveries of new dinosaurs – or indeed any new fossil species. But a key question for palaeontologists is 'just how good is the fossil record?' Do we know fifty per cent of the species of dinosaurs ...

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.