Super Resolution Imaging Platform Technology for Nanoparticles


In the recently reported study, the development of a high-resolution imaging platform technology to enhance knowledge of how nanoparticles interact inside cells has been described.

Stefan Wilhelm, Ph.D., assistant professor at the Stephenson School of Biomedical Engineering. Image Credit: University of Oklahoma

The study was led by Stefan Wilhelm, Ph.D., Assistant Professor at the University’s Stephenson School of Biomedical Engineering Oklahoma Universitya research group from the Gallogly College of Engineering at OU, the OU Health Sciences Center, and Yale University recently reported on an article in the journal ACS nano.

As technology-based capabilities in engineering and healthcare continue to improve, scientists and engineers are generating new technologies to advance the future of healthcare. Nanomedicine is one area that explores the use of nanoparticles for drug delivery within the body to fight infectious diseases or cancer.

Evaluation of such nanomedicines in cells, tissues, and organs is often performed by optical imaging, which can have limited resolution quality of imaging. It is important to add new imaging technologies to view nanoparticles in the context of 3D ultrastructures in biological tissues.

To view nano-treatments in biological samples, researchers use electron microscopy, which provides excellent spatial resolution but lacks 3-D imaging capabilities, or optical microscopy, which provides excellent 3-D imaging, but exhibits relatively low spatial resolution. ..

Stefan Wilhelm, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Stephenson School of Biomedical Engineering, University of Oklahoma

William added, “We demonstrate that we can perform 3-D imaging of biological samples with electron microscope-like resolution. This technique, called super-resolution imaging, allows us to see the nanomedicine inside individual cells.

Using this new super-resolution imaging method, we can now begin to track and monitor nanoparticles inside cells, which is a prerequisite for designing nanomedicines that are safer and more efficient at reaching specific areas inside cells.,” Wilhelm continued.

The scientists applied a super-resolution 3D imaging technique called expansion microscopy, which involves repairing cells in a hydrogel that can swell. Similar to the water-absorbent materials used in diapers, hydrogel materials tend to physically expand up to 20 times their original size when in contact with water.

This expansion allows imaging of cells with a lateral resolution of about 10 nanometers using a conventional optical microscope. We combine this method with approaches to image metallic nanoparticles in cells.

Stefan Wilhelm, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Stephenson School of Biomedical Engineering, University of Oklahoma

Our approach exploits the inherent ability of metal nanoparticles to scatter light. We use scattered light to image and measure nanoparticles inside cells without the need for additional nanoparticle labels,” William added.

The authors demonstrated that their high-resolution imaging platform technology could be used to enhance the engineering of safe and highly effective nanomedicines to advance the transition of the technology into the clinic.

Wilhelm, the corresponding study author, is an affiliate faculty at OU Health’s Stephenson Cancer Center and a faculty fellow for OU’s Office of the Vice President for Research and Partnerships. The study’s first author is Vinit Sheth, a doctoral student at the Stephenson School of Biomedical Engineering.

Journal Reference

Sheth, V., et al. (2023) Measuring the Intracellular Distribution of Nanoparticles with a Three-Dimensional Super-Resolution Microscope. ACS nano.



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