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Cell Membrane-based Ligand Modification Technology

While cell membrane coating is a powerful technology for enhancing drug utility, it is often desirable to introduce additional cell-membrane functionality depending on the specific application. For example, although cell membrane-coated nanoparticles (CM-NPs) can circulate for extended periods, the addition of a targeting ligand can improve localization to the desired target, such as a tumor. This novel approach of the fusion of natural cell membranes and different ligands represents a facile and effective means to perform increasingly complex tasks within biologically relevant contexts.

Cell Membrane-based Ligand Modification in Creative Biolabs

Creative Biolabs has years' experience in cell membrane engineering and will offer you the best advice and support based on cell membrane-based ligand modification technology. This functionalized strategy may expand cell membrane engineering applications, especially when multi-functions are required without changing the original properties of the natural cell membranes. With our well-established platform, the experienced scientists here at Creative Biolabs can design proper strategies and accomplish cell membrane-based ligand modification for your specific requirements. Our high-quality services will significantly contribute to the success of your projects.

Cell membrane-based ligand modification.Fig.1 Cell membrane-based ligand modification. (Chai, 2019)

Modification of live cells ensures that newly anchored biomolecules are on the same side as the extracellular domain of membrane proteins, essential for achieving multifunctionality from both natural membrane proteins and conjugated biomolecules. We have developed several non-genetic cell membrane modification approaches to functionalize cell membranes in a high-quality manner. The strategy enables a stable anchorage of functional ligand molecules on the extracellular domain of cell membrane proteins via a cell impermeable linker.

(1) Physical attachment relies on the insertion of the hydrophobic alkyl chain or lipid portion of ligands into lipid bilayers of membranes. The physical insertion of ligand-linker-lipid conjugates into the cell membranes produces functionalized cell membranes without damaging the existing surface proteins.

(2) Chemical modifications, including the NHS-PEG-maleimide approach and biotin-avidin binding, mostly conjugate ligand molecules onto cell membrane proteins, provide more stable anchorage.

Cell Membrane-based Ligand Modification for Targeted Delivery

CM-NPs delivery systems have long been explored to achieve targeted and controlled delivery of therapeutic agents to tumor tissue and cells. However, the overall ability of the administered nanotherapeutics to efficiently reach diseased sites can still be improved. Therefore, nanocarriers' rational design and purposeful modification are needed to introduce additional functionality, optimize drug delivery efficiency and achieve precise tumor treatment. Modifying cell membranes with targeting ligands that bind to tumor sites is likely to further functionalized to improve the delivery efficiency. More importantly, this ligand modification is relatively simple and does not damage the protein structure of the cell membrane. Overall, this cell membrane functionalized with tumor-targeting ligands can potentially treat a wide range of cancers and represents a promising approach that could ultimately be applied in the clinic.

Ligand-modified cell membrane for targeted delivery.Fig.2 Ligand-modified cell membrane for targeted delivery. (Liu, 2018)

Creative Biolabs is a leading service provider with many years of experience in cell membrane-based surface engineering. We would be pleased to provide support for any of your questions. If you are interested in our cell membrane-based ligand modification technology, please do not hesitate to contact us for more detailed information.


  1. Chai, Z.; et al. Ligand-modified cell membrane enables the targeted delivery of drug nanocrystals to glioma. Acs Nano. 2019, 13(5), pp.5591-5601.
  2. Liu, W.; et al. Light-triggered biomimetic nanoerythrocyte for tumor-targeted lung metastatic combination therapy of malignant melanoma. Small. 2018, 14(38), p.1801754.

All services are only provided for research purposes and Not for clinical use.

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