We know that it might strike nano-purists as heresy, but a team of researchers from Purdue used bacteria to deliver nanoparticles into cells. The group’s research was published in the latest issue of the journal Nature Nanotechnology:
Researchers at Purdue University have shown that common bacteria can deliver a valuable cargo of “smart nanoparticles” into a cell to precisely position sensors, drugs or DNA for the early diagnosis and treatment of various diseases.
The approach represents a potential way to overcome hurdles in delivering cargo to the interiors of cells, where they could be used as an alterative technology for gene therapy, said Rashid Bashir, a researcher at Purdue’s Birck Nanotechnology Center.
The researchers attached nanoparticles to the outside of bacteria and linked DNA to the nanoparticles. Then the nanoparticle-laden bacteria transported the DNA to the nuclei of cells, causing the cells to produce a fluorescent protein that glowed green. The same method could be used to deliver drugs, genes or other cargo into cells…
“The released cargo is designed to be transported to different locations in the cells to carry out disease detection and treatment simultaneously,” said Bashir, a professor in the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering and the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. “Because the bacteria and nanoparticle material can be selected from many choices, this is a delivery system that can be tailored to the characteristics of the receiving cells. It can deliver diagnostic or therapeutic cargo effectively for a wide range of needs…”
In the new approach, bacteria can carry hundreds of nanoparticles, each of which can in turn carry hundreds of drug molecules, depending on the size of the nanoparticles.
The approach also could make it possible to insert relatively large structures, such as sensors and hollow filaments called carbon nanotubes, into the interiors of cells.
The sensors could make it possible to monitor activities inside a single cell for the early detection of cancer and other diseases and to monitor the progress of disease and response to drug therapy. The carbon nanotubes could be delivered into diseased cells and then exposed to light, causing them to heat up and kill only those diseased cells, Akin said.
Press release: Bacteria ferry nanoparticles into cells for early diagnosis, treatment …
(hat tip: MTB Europe)