Many can appreciate the valuable information that can be obtained by manipulating biological cells, e.g., inserting a foreign molecule, such as a gene, protein, or peptide, and then study the cell’s response to the molecule. However, many can also recognize how difficult it is to insert a molecule into a biological cell.
As described in a recent article in The Technology Review, Needling Molecules: A simple method may solve the problem of getting stuff into cells, in fact, it can be like breaking into a fortress because it often relies on biological tricks such as infecting a cell with a virus or attaching a protein to another one that will sneak it through the cell’s membrane. Many of these methods are specific to certain types of cells and only work with specific molecules.
As the article reports, this is not without hope. A team led by Hongkun Park, a professor of chemistry and physics at Harvard University, has developed a simple and direct alternative: using nanowires as needles to poke molecules into cells.