Endocytosis is a fundamental process in which eukaryotic cells internalise molecules and macromolecules via deformation of the membrane and generation of membrane-bound carriers. Its primary role is to regulate the uptake of nutrients, however, endocytosis also plays a primary role in evolutionary conserved processes such as the regulation of plasma membrane protein activity (i.e. signal-transducing receptors, small molecule transporters and ion channels), cell motility and mitosis. The macromolecular nature of the material transported by endocytosis makes this route one of the most important targets for nanomedicine. Indeed, many nanoparticles have been customised to enter cells through endocytosis and deliver their cargo within the cell. We have studied this process for several years and applying new methodologies to understand its implications in drug delivery. We are studying how size, shape and surface topology affect the way cell membrane deform and consequently internalise the material. We correlate these with intracellular trafficking and cellular signalling. We apply both fast live imaging and mathematical modelling to understand these interactions.
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