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Shape transformation of vesicles

02/10/2014

Vesicles play an important part in exchanges between cells. Some vesicles may become drugs carriers. Physicists at CEA-Iramis conducted a study on their shape transformation.

How does the shape of vesicles immersed in concentrated solution change? Physicists at CEA-Iramis studied the shape of very rigid vesicles - polymersomes, after an osmotic stress. In particular conditions, they evidenced the formation of a double cell wall, inside which drugs could be encapsulated.

Vesicles are simple compartments whose membrane separates the two aqueous environments. The role of vesicles in the exchanges between cells was highlighted by the 2013 Nobel Prize in Medicine. Physico-chemists are trying to command the permeability of vesicles in order to make them deliver substances in a controlled way. But, when they are immersed in a liquid with high chemical species level, such as blood, they undergo a water hemorrhage which tends to balance the concentration on either side of their membrane. Hence the question: do they preserve their spherical shape? [...]

Polymersomes could thus become carriers of drugs or small hyperpolarized molecules like xenon used for lung MRI for instance.

This research results from a collaboration between CEA-Iramis, the Laboratoire de chimie des polymères organiques, in Bordeaux (Université de Bordeaux, École nationale supérieure de chimie, de biologie et de physique, CNRS), and the Institut Charles Sadron (CNRS), in Strasbourg.

Read the whole article on the Iramis website (in French).

Picture: Vesicles with double cell wall, © CEA-Iramis