Gene therapy — the process of replacing missing or defective genes — has the potential to treat an array of diseases, such as hemophilia, muscular dystrophy, immune deficiencies, and certain types of cancer. Current methods of gene therapy use modified viruses, external electrical fields, or harsh chemicals to penetrate cell membranes and deliver genes. These methods, however, can be costly and inefficient, as well as stressful and toxic to cells.
Researchers at the Univ. of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), have developed a new method that could enable safer, faster, and lower-cost gene therapy. Their innovation uses needle-like structures, dubbed nanospears, that can be remotely controlled to deliver biomolecules to patient cells. Because the tips are more than three orders of magnitude smaller than the diameter of a human hair, they can pierce cell membranes without major...
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