Foresight advisor John Gilmore brings our attention to the use of nanotechnology to inject a nanoscale cargo directly into a human cell. Lynn Harris writes in Science@Berkeley about work by Alex Zettl and team:
The prick of a flu shot may momentarily sting, but the penetration of the needle does no lasting harm to the skin. Likewise, the use of a nanoscale injector to introduce molecules into a biological cell does no harm to the cell.
A team of Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley scientists have developed such a “nanoinjector” and successfully used it to introduce protein-coated quantum dots into living human cells. The nanoinjector consists of a carbon nanotube attached to the tip of an atomic force microscope (AFM). A special linker molecule connects the designated cargo to the nanotube, which safely delivers it to the inside of a cell within 15 to 30 minutes…
In the future, they would like to combine the AFM and a confocal fluorescence microscope to carry out organelle-specific nanoinjections.
Very exciting work from a nanomedical perspective! —Christine