Róisín Owens, University of Cambridge
Interfacing Human Cell Membrane Models with Bioelectronics for Ion Channel Monitoring
Written by Alana F. Ogata
“You might be familiar with Moores law, but not as much with Erooms law,” says Roisin Owens as she explains how, despite improvements in drug design technology, drug discovery is increasingly slow and expensive. How do you make drug discovery screening methods more efficient and predictive to improve success rates at the clinical trial phase? Owens addresses this issue by studying human membrane models to probe a major mechanism in electrical cell signaling- ion flux through the cell membrane. Supported lipid bilayers (SLB) are excellent biomimetic models for studying interactions between drugs and cell membranes. A supported lipid monolayer formed on top of an organic electrochemical transistor (OECT) creates devices that are sensitive to the nature of the lipid monolayer by measuring electrical currents. Permeability of the lipid monolayer directly influences the current output and can capture time-resolved disruption of the lipid monolayer upon addition of antibiotic molecules. In addition, supported lipid bilayers functionalized with ATP-gated P2X2 channels were successfully studied with the same OECT technology revealing how channels open in response to ATP. Recent work aims to develop a multimodal sensing technology by combining electrical and optical measurements using SLB-OECT devices to further study ion flux in cell membrane models.