Journal: Advanced Functional Materials
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The brighter side of encapsulation
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Polymer-encapsulated fluorescent dyes could help us understand ion fluxes that regulate essential processes in the body, such as cell growth and cross-membrane transport.
A University College Cork-led team has developed a versatile potassium-sensitive fluorescent probe that penetrates and stains a broad range of tissues, including neurons, cancer cells, and organ models, with unexpectedly high efficiency. To generate the probes, the researchers encased ion-selective, red-light-emitting dye molecules in tiny polymer particles, enhancing the fluorescence intensity of the dye three-to five-fold inside the target cells.
Live cell assays demonstrated that the probes can be used to monitor intracellular potassium fluxes in the brain, gut, and other tissues. Brain imaging experiments revealed that the probes can facilitate the visualization of epileptic seizures, which can be useful for developing better therapies. This approach may also provide bright, selective, and photo-stable probes for high-resolution cell imaging techniques, such as confocal and two-photon microscopies.
- Advanced Functional Materials 28, 1704598 (2018). doi: 10.1002/adfm.201704598