Researchers create zombie-like cells that act alive despite being dead
Scientists have figured out a method for finding new natural compounds for potential use in pharmaceuticals by creating zombie-like cells that act alive despite being dead through iron oxide nanoparticles.
Researchers from University of Alabama have developed human ‘zombie-like’ cells that are dead on the outside, but are filled with magnetic particles inside in order to screen potential drugs from natural products.
In order to create the cells, the team scooped out the innards of the cells with the help of solvents. Later, they wrapped the shell around magnetic iron oxide nanoparticles with a biological cell membrane, explained Futurism. Through this, the walls of the cells were still able to interact with active compounds and fish them out from hundreds and thousands founds in a single natural sample of plants and other natural organisms such as fungi.
‘Zombie’ brain kept alive outside body for 36 hours after death
The encapsulation of the magnetic beads of iron oxide with a cell membrane keeps the function of the transmembrane proteins that act as receptors for active compounds that bind to the coated nanoparticles, as per Phys.org.
Just like a zombie moving despite being dead, the cell is no longer an active human cell, yet its membrane continues to function. This thing is what differentiates it from computational methods that simulate chemical interact in one, static state.
“We have the receptor in its natural environment behaving the way it normally behaves in a cell,” said one of the scientists Lukasz Ciesla.
If any compound in the natural extract can interact with the receptor, it sticks to the surface of the nanoparticles. A magnet can later be used to separate the nanoparticles from the extracts, and solvents can detach them, yielding the possible pharmacologically active compounds.
As per the research published in the journal Nanoscale, the team now hopes for the technique to accelerate the process of weeding through compounds in a natural product from weeks or months to just a few days.
Ciesla mentioned that this technique is only the first step in creating drugs to treat a disease, but it surely promising in helping find medicinal uses from natural products.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2019