Single Molecule Bionanophotonics (until July 2011)



Former members
Prof. María García-Parajo | Group leader
Now: ICFO

Description

The Single Molecule Bionanophotonics group devotes its research activities to the development and application of cutting-edge optical techniques for the study of biological processes at the single molecular level and on living cells. Thus we aim to develop fluorescence techniques that combine high spatial and temporal resolution for the dual goals of probing and manipulating biological function at the level of single molecules in their native environment: the living cell.

Nanoscale imaging on intact cell membranes is obtained using near-field optical microscopy (NSOM). We also generate strong nanoscale optical fields and superfocusing by fabrication of optical nano-antennas, tuned in resonance with the photon emitters. These nano-antenna probes scanned in controlled proximity to cell membranes allow optical resolution below 30nm. High temporal resolution is achieved using fluorescence correlation spectroscopy (FCS) and Epi/Total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy (TIRF) for single emitter tracking on living cells.

Our aim is to elucidate fundamental biological questions that have important implications for health and disease. Topics that attract our attention in the biological arena are cell membrane compartmentalization at the nanoscale, leukocyte adhesion mediated by integrin receptors and pathogen recognition by cells of the immune system.

As highlights of our achievements in 2011 we demonstrated the feasibility of fluorescence correlation spectroscopy (FCS) based on the nanometric illumination of near-field scanning optical microscopy (NSOM) probes on intact living cells (Biophys. J. (2011), 100, L08). NSOM-FCS applied to fluorescent lipid analogs allowed us to reveal details of the diffusion hidden by larger illumination areas. Moreover, the technique offers the unique advantages of evanescent axial illumination and straightforward implementation of multiple colour excitation. In collaboration with the group of Prof. F. Sanz we evaluated the potential of functional polyelectrolyte based nanoparticles as nanocarriers for lysosomal delivery of therapeutic proteins (Biomacromolecules (2011), 12, 2524). Using high-resolution fluorescence microscopy we characterized at the single particle level the binding, cellular uptake and successful delivery of these nanocarriers to lysosomal compartments.

The Single Molecule Bionanophotonics group left IBEC in July 2011 and now continues its work at the Institut de Ciències Fotòniques (ICFO).

 

News/Jobs

“A Fond Farewell”
InsideIBEC, Issue 3

Interview with María García-Parajo


Discovery of a Novel Cell Adhesion Mechanism
23/10/09

In a process essential to the immune system’s response to infection, dendritic cells responsible for identifying pathogens communicate with the T-cells that destroy the infectious agents. To achieve this, the dendritic cells must be correctly activated and migrate to the lymph nodes where they must adhere firmly to T-cells.


SMALL cover for researchers
17/06/09

The first cover of a top nano-science journal this month features the work of several IBEC researchers. The journal Small (Volume 5. No. 11 – June 5 2009) dedicates its cover to a paper published by four researchers from IBEC’s BioNanoPhotonics group led by Dr. María García-Parajo and two scientists from the Nijmegen Center for Molecular Life Sciences (NCMLS) in the Netherlands.


New Light Technique Developed to Observe Real-Time Cellular Activity on a Nanometric Scale
31/03/08

In any biological process, multiple interactions occurring at the molecular level make it impossible to observe live cells in real time, because light microscopes cannot focus light at scales of less than 350 nanometres.  New breakthroughs in nanophotonics, however, will shortly enable us to visualise molecular processes at an optical resolution of ten nanometres, according to researcher María García-Parajo, head of the Bionanophotonics Laboratory at IBEC.


Ruth Diez-Ahedo, best poster award at the ESF-EMBO Symposium in Sant Feliu de Guixols
11/07/07

Ruth Diez-Ahedo, PhD student at IBEC, has received the best poster award for her poster entitled “Tailored ICAM-1 patterned surfaces to study the nano-scale organisation of the adhesion receptor LFA-1″, granted by the European Science Foundation (ESF) and European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) Symposium on Biological Surfaces and interfaces that took place in Sant Feliu de Guixols, Spain, from July 1-6, 2007.


IBEC’s group on Bionanophotonics publishes article on cover page of ChemPhysChem
12/06/07

In a process essential to the immune system’s response to infection, dendritic cells responsible for identifying pathogens communicate with the T-cells that destroy the infectious agents. To achieve this, the dendritic cells must be correctly activated and migrate to the lymph nodes where they must adhere firmly to T-cells.

 

Projects

EU-funded projects
IMMUNANOMAP: Unraveling the Nano-Landscape of Receptors Controlling Molecular Processes of the Immune System (2007-2011) Marie Curie Research Training Network (FP6) María García-Parajo
PHOTONICS4LIFE: Network of Excellence for biophotonics (2009-2012) European Network of Excellence (FP7) María García-Parajo
Privately funded projects
Development of nanomedicines for enzymatic replacement therapy in Fabry disease (2010-2013) Fundació La Marató de TV3 María García-Parajo
National projects
IMMU-NANO-FORCE: Micropatterned biomaterials for nanoscale force-induced activation of adhesion receptors in the immune system (2011) MICINN María García-Parajo
Single Molecule Bionanophotonics (2009-SGR-597). AGAUR María García-Parajo

 

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