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Longevity boost as nanotech reveals inner cell workings

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Click the globe for translations.

A ground-breaking discovery is taking researchers deep into the heart of cells, allowing them to measure even the tiniest movements.

Scientists have for the first time managed to peak inside the workings of a cell thanks to a revolutionary piece of nanotech. The ground-breaking development promises to expand our understanding of how cells work and could help us understand age-related diseases and the even the aging process itself.

Longevity.Technology: These nano devices have taken us right inside a cell giving researchers more insight than ever before into how they work. The potential could be enormous and help in the treatment of serious and degenerative diseases.

The research was led by Professor Tony Perry from the Department of Biology and Biochemistry at the University of Bath, and involved injecting a nano device together with sperm into an egg cell of a mouse [1]. Microscopic tracking devices which look like tiny spiders were slipped into egg cells at the moment of fertilisation giving a remarkable view of the processes which marks the beginning of development.

Professor Perry, University of Bath

The sperm fertilised the egg resulting in a healthy one cell embryo containing a tracker. These devices have eight flexible ‘legs’ which measure the forces exerted in a cell interior to the highest level of precision. It reveals the cellular forces at play and demonstrates how intracellular matter rearranges itself over time.

Measuring just 22 nanometres, the devices are approximately 100,00 times thinner than a pound coin which gives them sufficient sensitivity to measure movement within the cell’s cytoplasm as the single cell embryo divides to become a two-cell embryo.

“This is the first glimpse of the physics of any cell on this scale from within,” said Professor Perry. “It’s the first time anyone has seen from the inside how cell material moves around and organises itself.”

There has been surge of interest in nano approaches, and as the tech gets smaller, the interest gets bigger. NaNotics‘ work in this field was recently described as “The most innovative use of a nanoparticle I’ve seen in my career,”  and nanotechnology has been used to address degenerative conditions of all sorts, including cancer, dementia and the aging process. This research has the potential to add to that work by increasing our understanding of how cells work.

 


 

“This is the first glimpse of the physics of any cell on this scale from within. It’s the first time anyone has seen from the inside how cell material moves around and organises itself.”

 


 

 

“Sometimes the devices were pitched and twisted by forces that were even greater than those inside muscle cells,” said Professor Perry. “At other times, the devices moved very little, showing the cell interior had become calm. There was nothing random about these processes – from the moment you have a one-cell embryo, everything proceeds in a predictable way. The physics is programmed.”

The findings have already challenged traditional narratives about how cells work. Researchers hope it may help us understand how diseases progress and how the aging process works which could have a substantial influence on Longevity and wellbeing.

[1] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32451513/

Images courtesy of Maritime_Filming_UK / Pixabay and Bath University
Eleanor Garth
Deputy Editor Now a science and medicine journalist, Eleanor worked as a consultant for university spin-out companies and provided research support at Imperial College London and various London hospitals in a former life.
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