Washington, January 20 : Japanese researchers have devised a way to introduce foreign genes into the cells of a diseased organism, so that they may address deficiencies to compensate for malfunctions in the body.
Takafumi Sakai, an expert at the Saitama University, says that the new technique can represent a true alternative to conventional processes wherein electrical current or UV lasers are used to make a cell membrane porous, so that synthetic DNA could be introduced into them.
The researcher says that the new method, developed in collaboration with Dr. Kazuto Ikemoto of Mitsubishi Gas Chemical Company, involves the bombarding of 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.
During the process, the tip of an extremely fine steel capillary is put under a high voltage. A highly charged drop of water exits the capillary, and gets atomised into many micro- or nanoscopic droplets.
The charged microdroplets are strongly accelerated in an electrical field, toward the plate holding the cell culture.he researchers say that the new method is suitable for a large variety of cell types - mammalian cell cultures and bacteria, as well as living tissue.
Only pure water or a cell-tolerated saline solution are used, and a specific point on some tissue can be targeted, they add.
The researchers also say that the equipment required for the procedure is simple, inexpensive, and portable.
The new procedure has been described in the journal Angewandte Chemie.