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A step towards understanding how cells organize themselves

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A project carried out by several IBEC researchers from the BioNanoPhotonics group demonstrates the existence of an intricate coupling between biological membrane organisation and cellular function. Understanding how receptors organise themselves on the membrane can help to protect the human system against infections by viruses and pathogens, and eventually develop therapies to treat immune-related diseases selectively and more effectively.

Cells communicate with each other and the outside world through a myriad of receptors located in its membrane. Particular cellular functions are determined not only by the expression of these receptors but also by the way they organise themselves on the biological membrane both in space and time.

Very little is known so far about how cells organise themselves, because this process occurs at a scale too small to be observed by conventional microscopes. The contribution made by the research group in this area has been to develop a simple and versatile platform that is used to create the so-called ligand patterns. The cells are then seeded over these patterns and, using a highly sensitive optical technique developed in the same group, researchers observe how natural receptors on the cell react to their counter-receptors placed in the pattern. 

For more information: IBEC

 

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