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An understanding of the mechanisms of drug diffusion and uptake through cellular membranes is critical for elucidating drug action and in the development of effective drug delivery systems. We study these processes for emodin, a potential anticancer drug, in live cancer cells using surface-enhanced Raman scattering. Micrometer-sized silica beads covered by nanosized silver colloids are passively embedded into the cell and used as sensors of the drug. We demonstrate that the technique offers distinct advantages: the possibility to study the kinetics of drug diffusion through the cellular membrane toward specific cell organelles, the detection of lower drug concentrations compared to fluorescence techniques, and less damage imparted on the cell.

Original publication




Journal article


J biomed opt

Publication Date





Cell Line, Tumor, Colloids, Diffusion, Emodin, Glioma, Humans, Molecular Probe Techniques, Nanostructures, Silver, Spectrum Analysis, Raman