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Drugs affect individual cells differently, new research suggests

Drugs affect individual cells differently, new research suggests
(A): Schematic of the nanocapillary sampling system, in which a nanocapillary is directed to the chosen cell using a nanomanipulator. A back pressure is applied using a pressure injector, to pull the cell into the nanocapillary; microscope images to show the extraction of a single cell using nanocapillary sampling where (B) before the start of an extraction showing that the nanocapillary is positioned at the selected cell and (C) demonstrating that the sampled cell is completed extracted leaving the surrounding cells still in place. Credit: The Analyst (2023). DOI: 10.1039/D2AN01732F

A new state-of-the-art method that measures the amounts of drugs and lipids (fats) in individual cells could help health professionals target more effective treatments for diseases such as tuberculosis (TB).

Researchers from the University of Surrey were able to isolate individual living cells that contained drugs commonly used to treat TB and found that each cell absorbed the differently, and each cell had a unique lipid "fingerprint."

Dr. Holly-May Lewis, first author of the study from the University of Surrey, said, "There was a big variation in how much was found in each cell—this indicates that different cells absorb drugs differently. This could prove significant to improving our understanding of life-saving treatments—not only for TB but for other and cancer too."

In the study, the Surrey researchers demonstrated the use of a technique called nanocapillary sampling, where scientists use a microscopic tool to trap . The researchers then used another technique, , to precisely measure the levels of drugs and lipids.

Professor Melanie Bailey, corresponding author of the study from the University of Surrey, said, "Surrey is one of the few places in the country where it's possible to experiment with these cutting-edge measuring techniques. We recently secured funding to establish a national research facility that will help researchers from the UK to make single cell measurements. If we are ever able to develop effective therapeutic methods to treat devastating diseases or fight the pandemics of the future, more out-of-box scientific thinking like this is needed."

The research has been published in the journal The Analyst.

More information: Holly-May Lewis et al, Nanocapillary sampling coupled to liquid chromatography mass spectrometry delivers single cell drug measurement and lipid fingerprints, The Analyst (2023). DOI: 10.1039/D2AN01732F

Journal information: Analyst

Citation: Drugs affect individual cells differently, new research suggests (2023, February 16) retrieved 6 June 2023 from
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