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Fabien Pinaud's big vision for treating cancer homes in on the smallest of targets.
Along with a team of scientists, he created a new hybrid nano-probe that could lead to noninvasive detection and treatment of the disease at the level of a single cell.
Pinaud - Assistant - Professor - Sciences - Chemistry
Pinaud, assistant professor of biological sciences, chemistry and physics and astronomy at USC Dornsife, developed a method for amplifying a biochemical signal on the surface of cancer cells.
The new technique binds and assembles gold nanoparticles in living cells using two fragments of a fluorescent protein as "molecular glue." These tiny probes act as amplifiers, enhancing researchers' ability to detect distinct biomarkers—things like overexpressed or mutated proteins—found in cancer cells.
Signal - Scientists - Cancer - Cells - Cells
The boosted signal allows the scientists to distinguish cancer cells from healthy cells through the use of Raman spectroscopy—a specialized laser imaging technique.
"Our approach takes advantage of the fact that we have two different nanoparticles which, on their own, are not active, but which become active when they assemble on cancer cells," said Pinaud, principle investigator of the Single Molecule Biophotonics Group and co-author of a related study, published Feb. 9 in Nature Communications.
Glue - Assemblies - Practice - Research - Today
Using "molecular glue" assemblies to design novel nano-probes is common practice in biomedical research today, but most scientists build these with DNA rather than protein. While promising optical probes are being generated using DNA assemblies in test tubes, DNA is not a practical adhesive in live cells. Proteins are often better.
Pinaud and his team start with a fluorescent protein, one that glows when ultraviolet-blue light shines on it. The fluorescent protein is split into two fragments and each piece is...
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