Characterization of Nanocarriers in Biological Media
Nanocarriers that are introduced into biological media – e.g. as drug delivery vehicles or diagnostic agents – undergo different interaction processes with the present biomolecules forming hybrid complexes with new biologically active surfaces. As these interactions are very complex and can lead to different biological outcomes, they have to be well characterized in order to derive general design rules for the nanomaterials. In this context, a combination of complementary techniques can be used – ranging from methods screening over complex protein mixtures to ones yielding more specific information about single proteins/biomolecules. As a first ‘quality control’, we apply multiangle dynamic light scattering in undiluted human plasma to detect any size changes and aggregation processes induced by the nanocarriers. To subsequently identify and quantify the proteins adsorbed onto nanocarriers, liquid chromatography – mass spectrometry (LC-MS) together with protein/biomolecule quantification assays is usually applied. Like this, the enrichment of proteins depending on the surface functionalization can be evaluated and linked to material properties such as charge and hydrophilicity. Once, interesting interacting biomolecules are identified, the thermodynamics and driving forces of these interaction processes can be evaluated using isothermal titration calorimetry (ITC). In the end, the knowledge about the driving forces of biomolecule-nanocarrier interactions should be used for the specific engineering of nanocarrier surfaces.
Svenja Morsbach graduated in biomedical chemistry from the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany in 2012. During her studies, she spent seven months at the Brookhaven National Laboratory, NY, US for a research stay in the group of Joanna Fowler. After obtaining her Diploma, Svenja started to pursue her PhD in chemistry at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research Mainz, Germany in the group of Prof. Katharina Landfester. Her thesis was focused on the investigation of the interactions between polymeric nanomaterials and blood plasma proteins with scattering and calorimetry techniques and completed in 2015. Starting from November 2015, Svenja took over the polymer analytics laboratory in the department of Prof. Katharina Landfester at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research as a group leader. There she is now advancing general polymer characterization methods as a core facility for the institute. Her research interest is in the interaction of nanomaterials with components of biological media – particularly in the blood stream. This involves the adsorption or covalent coupling of proteins but also other biomolecules such as lipids and cholesterol with the final aim to achieve control over the ‘biological identity’ of nanomaterials.