By: Cecília Leal
From: Department of Materials Science and Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA
Lipid materials having nanostructures that deviate from the conventional flat bilayer arrangement such as hexagonally packed lipid tubes and bicontinuous cubic phases are ubiquitous in nature. Their role remains elusive but over the years several pathologies and organelle functions have been coupled to lipid membrane structural complexity. In this talk we will discuss lipid membrane polymorphism and how it can be exploited to generate a new class of materials for the delivery of cargo to cells. We combine a number of techniques including X-ray scattering, cryo-EM, and cell culture to demonstrate that the structure of lipid nanoparticles is a powerful handle to boost the delivery of genes to cells. The simple argument that non-lamellar phases having intertwined nanoscale channels exist to increase surface-to-volume ratio might be insufficient to completely describe the experimental findings.