Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

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

26.06.2014

Scientists with Texas A&M AgriLife Research have found a "Trojan horse" way to deliver proteins into live human cells without damaging them.

The finding, published in this month's Nature Methods, is expected to be easily adopted for use in medical research to find cures and treatments for a wide range of diseases, according to the team's lead scientist, Dr. Jean-Philippe Pellois, an associate professor of biochemistry at Texas A&M University.


Scientists with Texas A&M AgriLife Research have found a 'Trojan horse' way to deliver proteins into live human cells without damaging them. Part of the team, shown here from the left, were graduate students Alfredo Erazo-Oliveras of Puerto Rico, Kristina Najjar of Lebanon and Dr. Jean-Philippe Pellois, Texas A&M University biochemist.

Credit: (Texas A&M AgriLife Research photo by Kathleen Phillips)

"This is something that for many years people have tried to do, because proteins are basic components of the cell. They are the molecules that are doing all kinds of jobs inside the cell," Pellois said. "Being able to deliver a protein to change or study what the cell is doing is extremely useful."

Scientists with Texas A&M AgriLife Research have found a "Trojan horse" way to deliver proteins into live human cells without damaging them. Part of the team, shown here from the left, were graduate students Alfredo Erazo-Oliveras of Puerto Rico, Kristina Najjar of Lebanon and Dr. Jean-Philippe Pellois, Texas A&M University biochemist. (Texas A&M AgriLife Research photo by Kathleen Phillips)

... more about:
»A&M »AgriLife »DNA »HIV virus »Texas »Trojan horse »deliver »discover

Scientists with Texas A&M AgriLife Research have found a "Trojan horse" way to deliver proteins into live human cells without damaging them. Part of the team, shown here from the left, were graduate students Alfredo Erazo-Oliveras of Puerto Rico, Kristina Najjar of Lebanon and Dr. Jean-Philippe Pellois, Texas A&M University biochemist. (Texas A&M AgriLife Research photo by Kathleen Phillips)

Currently, scientists use different methods to try to figure out how molecules work inside a cell. In general, a scientist can deliver the DNA that codes for the protein into a cell, but that requires crossing the cell membrane, which damages or kills the cell, he explained. Also, the amount of protein produced by DNA expression is hard to control, and the DNA introduced can also alter 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

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 DNA that leads to a loss of function of those tumor suppressor proteins, that is when a cell can start going completely crazy and growing without limits.

"The idea is that if this protein can be reintroduced into the cancer cell – without damaging the cell — this protein might cause the death of the cancer cells. That would be a therapeutic tool using our method."

Drug development to treat specific ailments where a medicinal compound could be delivered into a cell is another potential use, he said.

His team derived the method from decades old knowledge of research on the HIV virus, which found a toxic protein that was able to go from one infected cell to an uninfected cell. Peptides derived from that protein have been studied for their ability to penetrate cells.

"Our contribution has been to take those compounds that work at very low efficiency and all of a sudden increase their efficiency dramatically. It took a clever guess and also luck to find the compounds that worked really, really well," he said of his team at Texas A&M which included Alfredo Erazo-Oliveras, Kristina Najjar, Laila Dayani, Ting-Yi Wang and Gregory Johnson.

He likened the discovery to "creating a Trojan horse for the cell."

"We are able to hijack the cell, and then use the cellchemistry to get those reagents to come out of what would be the equivalent of a Trojan horse," he said. "It is a little bit like kicking through the door. Usually, in kicking to get inside the cell the door is damaged.

"Because of that, it's a gamble. A lot of people were hesitant to make those reagents more effective because of the danger of what can happen to the cell. In other words, yes, you may get in the cell, but if you destroy the membrane and kill the cell, what good is that?

"The surprise in our work is that despite being extremely efficient, despite presumably 'kicking through the door' and getting inside, the cell is okay," he said. "We don't quite know why, but what we suspect is that the cell is basically repairing the door as soon as it is broken. Perhaps the cell has a mechanism to repair itself, and we were lucky to stumble upon that to develop a technology that is both efficient and safe."

His team used "a library of cells" from people, chicken, monkeys and mice. There are slight differences, but more among different types of cells than by species. Some types — such as brain cells — are a bit more resistant, but the method still worked, he said.

"Now it is a question of fine tuning," Pellois said. "This delivery technology provides us a way to turn the cell into a test tube where we can add components, control how much we add and then look at what happens. That will allow us to study functions in mechanisms and in ways that have not been possible before."

Kathleen Phillips | Eurek Alert!
Further information:
http://www.tamu.edu

Further reports about: A&M AgriLife DNA HIV virus Texas Trojan horse deliver discover

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Satellites, airport visibility readings shed light on troops' exposure to air pollution
09.12.2016 | Veterans Affairs Research Communications

nachricht Oxygen can wake up dormant bacteria for antibiotic attacks
08.12.2016 | Penn State

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Electron highway inside crystal

Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.

Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth

09.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Scientists produce a new roadmap for guiding development & conservation in the Amazon

09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Satellites, airport visibility readings shed light on troops' exposure to air pollution

09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>