Embracing Asymmetry: Designing Janus Interfaces to Interrogate Immune Cell Functions
The immune system functions on the basis of intricately organized chemical reactions and physical forces. Examples range from the engulfment of invading bacteria that relies on a fine balance of competing mechanical forces, to the activation of T-lymphocytes that requires collective interactions between thousands of receptors at the junction between cells. Owing to the complexity of these chemical and physical processes, understanding immune functions using traditional biological tools is highly challenging. In this talk, I will present my lab’s research progress towards designing unique biointerfaces to enable the quantitative understanding and manipulation of immune functions. Our research so far has capitalized on Janus particles, particles that have two “faces” like the Roman god Janus. This asymmetry allows different and even incompatible functionalities to be combined in single particles. I will show in the talk how we used the unique Janus particle system to manipulate immune cell functions, and to probe cellular dynamics in multi-dimensions beyond translation motion.