More and more research in the field of diagnostic medicine and in general of the treatment of human diseases focuses on the use of nanometer-sized materials, ie substances made of particles that have tens or hundreds of nanometers in diameter, naturally completely invisible to the human eye. These substances can be useful if injected into certain cells, but the problem is to make them reach the active sites in the most profitable way possible.
The most “traditional” method sees the use of peptides, fragments of proteins found in cells, tissues and enzymes. Peptides interact with cells and cause the nanomaterial of interest to enter successfully. However, the use of peptides is not yet clear and the possible side effects that such methods may have on the functionality of the cells but above all on the functionality of the introduced nanomaterials are not clear.
In a new study, published in Nature Communications, a group of researchers from the University of Minnesota proposed a new method that sees the introduction of the nanomaterial into cells without the use of peptides.
The method is explained by Hongbo Pang, assistant professor at the College of Pharmacy of the aforementioned university and one of the authors of the study: “Simply by mixing two types of nanometric materials, we discovered a new cellular process that offers a simple solution for entry of nanomaterials in cells. Furthermore, this opens up a new avenue for cellular biology that connects several fundamental elements of living cells. A further understanding of this process will help both the development of cell biology and nanotechnology.”
The new method sees the absorption by the cells facilitated thanks to cysteine, a substance that surrounds the cells themselves.