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Research Team Scores Advance In Manipulating T-Cells

Until recently, medical researchers had little hope of experimentally manipulating naïve T-cells to study their crucial roles in immune function, because they were largely impenetrable, says polymer scientist Gregory Tew of the University of Massachusetts Amherst: “So far off limits we could not readily get inside to investigate their workings.” Now, he and colleagues including immunologist Lisa Minter have found a way not only to get inside naïve T-cells, but to deliver bio-active cargo such as proteins and synthetic molecules across that long-locked cell membrane, by using a new synthetic protein transduction domain that mimics natural ones. Tew and colleagues call their new macromolecules “PTD mimics”. They are able to slip through the T-cell’s membrane and deliver a payload of therapeutic small interfering RNA.
Image credit: NIAID/NIH