The human body contains 100 trillion cells, each of which is enveloped in a cell membrane which is essentially a phospholipid bi-layer membrane. These cell membranes have a plethora of proteins, ion channels and other molecules embedded in them, each performing vital functions.
It is essential, therefore, to study and understand these systems, thereby enabling their application in areas such as bio-sensing, bio-catalysis and drug-delivery. Considering that it is difficult to accomplish this by studying live cells inside the human body, scientists have developed model cell membranes on surfaces outside the body, to study the systems and processes under more convenient and accessible conditions.
Dr Vijayaraghavan's team at Manchester and their collaborators at KIT have shown that graphene is an exciting new surface on which to assemble these model membranes, and brings many advantages compared to existing surfaces.
Dr Vijayaraghavan said: "Firstly, the lipids spread uniformly on graphene to form high-quality membranes.
"When the lipids contain binding sites such as the enzyme called biotin, we show that it actively binds with a protein called streptavidin. Also, when we use charged lipids, there is charge transfer from the lipids into graphene which changes the doping level in graphene. All of these together can be exploited to produce new types of graphene/lipids based bio-sensors."
"By employing arrays of these tips multiple different mixtures of lipids can be written in parallel, allowing for sub-cellular sized patterns with diverse chemical composition."
Keywords for this news article include: Cell Membrane, Cellular Structures,
Our reports deliver fact-based news of research and discoveries from around the world. Copyright 2013, NewsRx LLC
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