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Cells get sprayed
Date:1/18/2008

This release is also available in German.

Genetically engineered products have become indispensable. For example, genetically modified bacteria produce human insulin. In future, gene therapy should make it possible to introduce genes into the cells of a diseased organism so that they can address deficiencies to compensate for malfunctions in the body. In order for this to work, foreign (or synthetic) DNA must be introduced into host cells, which is not exactly a trivial task. Japanese researchers have now developed a method which could represent a true alternative to conventional processes. As described in the journal Angewandte Chemie, the cells are bombarded with water droplets produced and accelerated by electrospray.

There are several methods to transfer DNA into a host cell. In the simplest case the foreign DNA forces its way into the cell through a cell membrane that has been made porous, through treatment with electrical current or UV lasers, for example. Viruses and liposomes can be used as genetic transporters and the genetic material can be injected or shot into the cell with a particle gun. These methods all have the disadvantage of either severely damaging delicate cells or of being markedly expensive and complicated.

A team at the Saitama University led by Takafumi Sakai, in cooperation with Kazuto Ikemoto (Mitsubishi Gas Chemical Company), has now developed a methodology that could provide an alternative: They bombard the cells with tiny electrically charged water droplets. The droplets tear tiny holes in the cell membranes, through which external DNA molecules can enter. After about one minute, the holes have closed back up and even delicate cells survive the procedure undamaged.

This method is based on a technique called electrospray, which has long been used with success, particularly in mass spectrometry. In this process, th
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Contact: Takafumi Sakai
tsakai@mail.saitama-u.ac.jp
Wiley-Blackwell
Source:Eurekalert

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