Understanding intracellular nanoparticle trafficking fates through spatiotemporally resolved magnetic nanoparticle recovery
The field of nanomedicine has the potential to be a game-changer in global health, with possible applications in prevention, diagnostics, and therapeutics. However, despite extensive research focus and funding, the forecasted explosion of novel nanomedicines is yet to materialize. We believe that clinical translation is ultimately hampered by a lack of understanding of how nanoparticles really interact with biological systems. When placed in a biological environment, nanoparticles adsorb a biomolecular layer that defines their biological identity. The challenge for bionanoscience is therefore to understand the evolution of the interactions of the nanoparticle–biomolecules complex as the nanoparticle is trafficked through the intracellular environment. However, to progress on this route, scientists face major challenges associated with isolation of specific intracellular compartments for analysis, complicated by the diversity of trafficking events happening simultaneously and the lack of synchronization between individual events. In this perspective article, we reflect on how magnetic nanoparticles can help to tackle some of these challenges as part of an overall workflow and act as a useful platform to investigate the bionano interactions within the cell that contribute to this nanoscale decision making. We discuss both established and emerging techniques for the magnetic extraction of nanoparticles and how they can potentially be used as tools to study the intracellular journey of nanomaterials inside the cell, and their potential to probe nanoscale decision-making events. We outline the inherent limitations of these techniques when investigating particular bio-nano interactions along with proposed strategies to improve both specificity and resolution. We conclude by describing how the integration of magnetic nanoparticle recovery with sophisticated analysis at the single-particle level could be applied to resolve key questions for this field in the future.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Nanoscale Advances HOT Article Collection