A synthetic biological sensor was developed to monitor the interaction of plasma with soft, hydrated biological material. It comprises phospholipid vesicles in a hydrated proteinaceous environment comprising 5% (w/v) gelatin. The vesicles contained a self-quenched dye, which was activated by vesicle destruction giving a clear fluorescent switch on. The interaction of bacterial toxins with the sensor was measured in a proof of principle experiment, then the effect of atmospheric plasma jets with the sensor, was studied in order to assess the cytolytic effect of plasma jets in biological systems. When the plasma contacted the gelatin surface perpendicular to the surface, the treatment resulted in the formation of a star-shaped pattern of microchannels that radiated out from the centre of the treatment area within the gelatin matrix, and locally damaged vesicles within the microchannels at a depth of 150 µm below the gelatin surface. Plasma jets applied in parallel to the surface of the matrix resulted in the formation of a single microchannel with damage to the vesicles only evident at the walls of the channel, and a much reduced penetration depth within the gelatin. Our data show that the effects of plasma can be deep in the gelatin material and that the angle of treatment significantly influenced the nature and level of damage to the gelatin and vesicles. Potentially this gelatin model can be used to unravel the roles of different plasma species and the direct effect of whole plasma contact, from those of primary and secondary species—i.e. primary, those emanating directly from the plasma and secondary, those species created in the 'target' tissue. This type of insight could be useful in the future development of safe and effective plasma medical technologies.
Marshall, S., Jenkins, A. T. A., Al-Bataineh, S. A., Short, R. D., Hong, S-H., Thet, N. T., Oh, J-S., Bradley, J. W., & Stili, E. J. (2013). Studying the cytolytic activity of gas plasma with self-signalling phospholipid vesicles dispersed within a gelatin matrix. Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics, 46(18), . https://doi.org/10.1088/0022-3727/46/18/185401