TTP, a leading UK technology and product development company, has recently developed an innovative new approach to the intracellular delivery of macromolecules and nano-particles into cells at high speed and high volume. This new technique could have major implications for a range of cellular applications including the transfection of cells with DNA material. TTP has already successfully demonstrated the transport of antibodies into cells and is now beginning to explore other biomolecules and the full capabilities of this exciting technology. This technology relies on a physical effect alone and does not require chemical, electrical poration or biological vectors to enable transport into the cell.
It has been known for some time that relaxation of cell membranes as a result of deformation leads to transient poration to allow molecules or other particles to enter the cell. However, existing approaches to harness this effect typically rely on the use of microfluidics and require pumps and other costly components. They also work at relatively low throughputs and are very prone to clogging.
TTP’s new solution solves these shortcomings to deliver high throughput in a low-cost and simple platform. In the TTP device, cells and the material to enter the cells are passed through a vibrating metal or polymeric membrane that contains pores of size similar to the cells. In its current design, the membrane is vibrated at around 100Khz as the fluid and cells pass through the pores. With no fluid feed or pumping, the TTP technology is gentle on the cells, which provides a good level of survival along with excellent transport of material into the cells. The throughput of the device is defined by a combination of features including pore size and density, vibrating frequency and membrane size.
“This is a major breakthrough for DNA transfection and other intracellular applications,” said Dr Giles Sanders at TTP. “The new TTP technique has the potential to deliver far greater performance than existing methods at a lower cost. We are continuing our development work and keen to engage with industry partners to commercialise the technology.”