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Researchers discover 'Trojan Horse' method of penetrating cellular walls without harm

er the genome of cells in an uncontrollable and unpredictable manner.

"We bypass this and deliver the protein directly," Pellois said. "And the method we found delivers the protein very efficiently. A lot of the protein gets inside the cell, and we don't damage the membrane or alter the physiology of the cell.

"That's really powerful. It has an impact for cell biology, whether the question is how does the cell work and what do proteins do, or when a protein does not function properly, how does this lead to disease?"

Human cancer cells into which a protein with a green signal is delivered. (Texas A&M AgriLife Research photo courtesy of Dr. Jean-Philippe Pellois)

Human cancer cells into which a protein with a green signal was delivered. (Texas A&M AgriLife Research photo courtesy of Dr. Jean-Philippe Pellois)

He said the field of regenerative medicine could be one of the first practical applications because research there aims at reprogramming cells for example,using a patient's skin cells reprogrammed asheart or liver cells to help that person recover from an illness.

"You can use those cells as therapeutic tools themselves that can repair damaged organs and tissues," Pellois said. "Our finding will allow these therapeutic challenges to be met by helping medical researchers get the reprogramming proteins inside cells safely."


Neuroblasts at a lower magnification. Red means a lot of protein was delivered. (Texas A&M AgriLife Research photo courtesy of Dr. Jean-Philippe Pellois)

Similarly, the method could be used in the battle against cancer, he added.

"A way to kill a cancer cell is to deliver a protein that is known to be a tumor suppressor," he said. "Sometime cancer arises when a certain set of key proteins called tumor suppressors stop functioning. When they function normally, they make sure that healthy cells don't start proliferating. But when there is a mutation in DN

Contact: Kathleen Phillips
Texas A&M AgriLife Communications

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