We have completed maintenance on DiscoverMagazine.com and action may be required on your account. Learn More

Move 'Em Out, Rawhide! Scientists "Herd" Immune Cells With Magnets

Discoblog
By Nina Bai
Nov 7, 2008 2:51 AMNov 5, 2019 8:47 AM

Newsletter

Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news
 

Humans have a habit of using animals to carry things: horses, llamas, sled dogs, messenger pigeons.But the newest “beasts of burden” may be inside our own bodies.Researchers at MIT have strapped tiny “backpacks” to T cells and B cells, which could be used to carry and deliver drugs to targeted tissues like cancer tumors.

The researchers created tiny polymer patches that could latch onto the surface of the immune cells.The patches are synthesized and docked on a holding substrate.They consists of three layers: a temperature-dependent sticky layer that attaches the patches to a holding substrate, a layer that contains the cargo to be delivered, and a binding layer that will attach the patches to the cell surface.Once the system is set up, cells are allowed to flow across the patches and get stuck on them.The temperature of the system is then lowered to release the patches from the substrate, and the cells float away with their “backpacks.”

In addition to drugs and chemotherapy agents, the cellular backpacks could carry imaging agents or even magnetic nanoparticles – which would allow researchers to direct the movement of the cyto-mules with a magnetic field, kind of like moving around iron filings with a magnet.

Related Content: DISCOVER: Big Cures Come In Small Packages DISCOVER: Future Tech: Microchips and Micromuscles 80beats: Doped Up Immune System Can Beat Back Lymphoma Tumors

Image: flickr / R.W.W.

1 free article left
Want More? Get unlimited access for as low as $1.99/month

Already a subscriber?

Register or Log In

1 free articleSubscribe
Discover Magazine Logo
Want more?

Keep reading for as low as $1.99!

Subscribe

Already a subscriber?

Register or Log In

More From Discover
Recommendations From Our Store
Shop Now
Stay Curious
Join
Our List

Sign up for our weekly science updates.

 
Subscribe
To The Magazine

Save up to 40% off the cover price when you subscribe to Discover magazine.

Copyright © 2024 Kalmbach Media Co.