The major aim of our current work is to develop a deep understanding of biological effects of nanoparticles and how these effects are mediated by proteins that are adsorbed on the nanoparticles under different biological circumstances. Due to their small size, nanoparticles have distinct properties compared to the bulk form of the same materials, and these properties are rapidly revolutionizing many areas of medicine and technology. However, relatively little is known about the interaction of nanoscale objects with biological systems, as this requires quite different concepts from more established nanoscience. Thus, we have argued that in a biological fluid, proteins associate with nanoparticles, and it is the amount and presentation of the proteins on the surface rather than the particles themselves that are the cause of numerous biological responses. It is this outer layer of proteins that is seen by the biological cells, and leads to their responses. We are developing novel techniques to identify and quantify the proteins that are consistently associated with nanoparticles, as a function of the nanoparticle size, shape, and surface properties, and to correlate the adsorbed protein identities with their association and dissociation rates to and from the nanoparticles. We also seek to understand the degree of conformational change that they undergo upon adsorption to the nanoparticles. In essence, we wish to create "epitope maps" of the protein corona that surrounds nanoparticles in biological solutions, as it is the particle-protein complex that is the biologically active entity. (c) 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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