Nanoparticles, molecular biosensors, and multispectral confocal microscopy

J Mol Histol. 2004 Aug;35(6):555-64. doi: 10.1007/s10735-004-2196-4.


Complex, multilayered nanoparticles hold great promise for more sophisticated drug/gene delivery systems to single cells. Outermost layers can include cell targeting and cell-entry facilitating molecules. The next layer can include intracellular targeting molecules for precise delivery of the nanoparticle complex inside the cell of interest. Molecular biosensors can be used to confirm the presence of expected molecules (for example, reactive oxygen species (ROS) as a surrogate molecule for signs of infection, or for activation in radiation damage, etc.) prior to delivery of counter-measure molecules such as drugs or gene therapy. They can also be used as a feedback control mechanism to control the proper amount of drug/gene delivery for each cell. Importantly, the full nanoparticle system can be used to prevent any cells from encountering the drug unless that cell is specifically targeted. Thus, if a cell is initially non-specifically targeted, a secondary check for other molecular targets which must also be present inside the target cell of interest can be used to catch initial targeting mistakes and prevent subsequent delivery of treatment molecules to the wrong cells. The precise intracellular location of nanoparticles within specific regions of a cell can be confirmed by 3D multispectral confocal microscopy. These single cell molecular morphology measurements can be extended from individual cells, to other cells in a tissue in tissue monolayers or tissue sections.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Biocompatible Materials
  • Biosensing Techniques* / instrumentation
  • Biosensing Techniques* / methods
  • Gene Transfer Techniques
  • Humans
  • Microscopy, Confocal / methods*
  • Nanotechnology / instrumentation
  • Nanotechnology / methods*
  • RNA Interference*
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism


  • Biocompatible Materials
  • Reactive Oxygen Species