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Nanowires Inject Molecules Into Living Cells 45

Posted by samzenpus
from the just-a-little-pinch dept.
TechRev_AL writes "A scientist at Harvard University has developed a clever trick for manipulating the insides of living cells. Hongkun Park grows cells on top of nanowires so that the wires poke into them like needles, which allows molecules to be delivered inside them. To use the nanowires to deliver molecules, Park's team first treats them with a chemical that would allow molecules to bind relatively weakly to the surface of the nanowires. Then they coat the wires with a molecule or combination of molecules of interest. When cells are impaled on the nanowires, the molecules are released into the cells' interior. This gallery of images shows the cells growing on top of the nanowires."
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Nanowires Inject Molecules Into Living Cells

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  • read "Zodiac" by Neal Stephenson...
  • Yay! (Score:2, Interesting)

    Sweet! Now let's see combine this with past work [physorg.com] with nanowires and make the world's first Living TV! Plasma tv that uses your own plasma? I'm game.
    • Now your provider does not want an arm an a leg for shows,
      just blood!

      Wonder what pr0n needs?...

    • those frame rates of 3 frames per day are going to suck though (approximate time it will take a cell to synthesize a fluorescent protein from delivered RNA / DNA)
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Before you know it, every snot nosed punk looking to be "cool" and "tough" will be walking around with nanoscopic piercings.

  • by aczysz (1275484) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @10:26PM (#30760032)
    As someone who has spent plenty of hours in lab begging my cells to take up whatever GFP protein is the flavor of the week, something like this really could be interesting. As I see it, this would be a whole new class of transfection protocols in addition to chemical and electrical methods. Cost and the idea of actually poking holes makes it more similar to the latter, but it does have some unique differences. The most obvious is that you'd have a broader class of molecules that one can inject since there is practically no membrane interaction. Also, while the plates may be costly, there is no need for an expensive electroporation machine.
    • Sounds kind'a cruel to me. I mean - how would you like it if they did that to you? I suppose the scientists who poked the cells with the nano-wires used to tear the wings off of flies as children.
      • by aczysz (1275484)
        And how! But actually, a bunch of tiny pricks or a big shock of electricity? Hmm.
    • This is more like patch-clamp than electroporation ...

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      As someone who has spent plenty of hours in lab begging my cells to take up whatever GFP protein is the flavor of the week, something like this really could be interesting. As I see it, this would be a whole new class of transfection protocols in addition to chemical and electrical methods. Cost and the idea of actually poking holes makes it more similar to the latter, but it does have some unique differences. The most obvious is that you'd have a broader class of molecules that one can inject since there is practically no membrane interaction. Also, while the plates may be costly, there is no need for an expensive electroporation machine.

      I work two floors up from the Park lab, and I'm going to put the probability of this stuff being used for transfection between 'unlikely' and 'exceedingly unlikely'. Their biological work is really mostly a smokescreen and excuse to do nanofabrication work. In the case of mammalian transfection, it is true that this may find some limited application, but in all likelihood the sensitivity of the scaffolds involved here will result in products that are 1) single use, 2) expensive and 3) unlikely to be fabri

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by radtea (464814)

        Like so much stuff coming out of Chemistry groups right now - cute and cool but not likely to be of any real value in the next decade or three.

        While I agree with all of that, I'm reminded of Faraday's famous quip when asked what good electricity is: "What good is a baby?"

        When people complain about the short-term mindset of the modern world, this is what they're speaking of: we can give individual cells injections! The cool factor alone is worth it, and as someone who has had the misfortune of analying gen

      • by aczysz (1275484)
        Didn't they use this for siRNA transfection in their publication? I haven't spend a lot of time looking at their exact setup, but the concept behind their model doesn't seem impossible to adopt into a mass-producible product that would be expense, but not prohibitive. While a lot more physiology needs to be studied before we can understand what kinds of drawbacks this might make, current methods of changing lipid composition or poking electrically-induced holes in the membrane (without a needle to fill it
    • Aerosolizing anthrax or aerosolizing coated nanowires: which would be easier to do?
  • for some reason my first thought was that this could be applied to building a cyberdemon.
  • A scientist at Harvard University has developed a clever trick for manipulating the insides of living cells.

    And the rest of us had been using money, sex, and beer all these years.

  • Which is every pathogen’s wet dream.

    What could possibly go wrong...?

    • by aczysz (1275484) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @10:50PM (#30760180)
      This really wouldn't have an potential outside of the lab in terms of pathogenic entry. If you used the technique to inject material into cells that were designed for later human implantation, they would have been transferred to non-spiked surfaces for at least sometime after molecule injection and before implantation. Thus the pathogen's entry point would have been long severed.
    • Which is every pathogen’s wet dream.

      What could possibly go wrong...?

      Just imagine how they would feel if we started growing whole people on beds of nanowires!

  • by jtollefson (1675120) on Thursday January 14, 2010 @12:01AM (#30760638)
    It would be really good if somebody could explain why this is useful. It sounds like it could be, but, an explanation of practical application would be awesome. =)
    • Direct neural interfaces As I understand it its making the connection between electronic and biological parts that's the problem. This goes at least part of the way to solving it.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Ledgem (801924)

      I'm a graduate student in immunology research, so when I first read this over I immediately began to think about how I could use it in my own research. I can think of quite a few applications.

      I won't go into the details of my project (that'd be a few paragraphs right there and I'd lose people's attention), but it's heavily based on cell signaling. In a molecular biology course you were probably exposed to the fact that cells have a whole lot going on inside of them - various receptors trigger various protei

  • by Anonymous Coward

    http://www.nature.com/ncb/journal/v11/n12/abs/ncb1990.html

    M-Sec promotes membrane nanotube formation by interacting with Ral and the exocyst complex.

    Abstract:
    Cell-cell communication is essential for the development and homeostasis of
    multicellular organisms. Recently, a new type of cell-cell communication was
    discovered that is based on the formation of thin membranous nanotubes between
    remote cells. These long membrane tethers, termed tunneling nanotubes (TNTs),
    form an intercellular conduit and have been show

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