By loading genes onto nanoparticles, then attaching the nanoparticles to bacteria, scientists have devised a new way of shuttling potentially therapeutic material into mammalian cells. Because the nanoparticles could carry a variety of molecular cargo, the system could have a wide range of applications, including cancer therapy and insertion of cellular biosensors.
Rashid Bashir and his colleagues at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., worked with Listeria monocytogenes, which are bacteria with molecular machinery that can penetrate a cell's defenses. The recipient cells naturally package the cargo-coated bacteria, which the researchers call "microbots," in a fatty envelope and bring them inside. Bacte