Detecting parameters that describe cell metabolic and/or electrical activity, with high spatial and temporal resolution, is essential for many applications from fundamental physiology to drug screening and tissue engineering.
The environment-sensitive, size-dependent optical properties of inorganic nanoparticles are rendering them interesting candidates for probing locally the effects of cellular activity: pH and temperature changes, membrane voltages, intracellular calcium levels, neurotransmitter or cytokine release etc.
To enhance their sensitivity, the interaction between the nanoparticles and cellular constituents can be improved by coupling the particles onto biological constituents of native extracellular matrices.
As an example, in this talk I will discuss how collagen/quantum dot hybrid materials can be assembled and used in order to detect electrical activity of cardiomyocytes.
C. Bartic obtained the PhD in Physics from the KU Leuven in collaboration with imec in 2002 based on her work on organic-based field-effect transducers for bioanalytical applications. Between 2002 and 2009 she was leading the Neuroelectronics research team of imec. In October 2009, she was appointed associate professor in the Soft Matter and Biophysics Unit of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at KU Leuven, performing research on nanobiophysics.
The Nanobiophysics team investigates the properties of nanomaterials (i.e. metal and semiconductor nanostructures) and their interactions with biomolecules and cells in the context of biosensing and cell activity modulation. Specifically, we study how biofunctionalization and cellular signaling influence the optoelectronic properties of inorganic nanostructures by combinations of optical, electronic and scanning probe techniques. We construct hybrid protein/nanoparticle extracellular matrices allowing stimulating and detecting cell electrical activity by optical methods and investigate the interaction of light with living tissues (http://fys.kuleuven.be/zmb/nanobio/ ).
C. Bartic has coordinated several national and international funded projects. She teaches topics on modern physics, soft matter physics, biophysics and biomaterial properties and is chairing the educational committee of the Master of Biophysics, Biochemistry and Biotechnology at the KU Leuven.