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Nat Nanotechnol. 2010 Aug;5(8):607-11. doi: 10.1038/nnano.2010.126. Epub 2010 Jul 18.

Delivery of molecules into cells using carbon nanoparticles activated by femtosecond laser pulses.

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Institute for Bioengineering and Biosciences, Center for Drug Design, Development and Delivery, and Laser Dynamics Laboratory, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia 30332, USA.


A major barrier to drug and gene delivery is crossing the cell's plasma membrane. Physical forces applied to cells via electroporation, ultrasound and laser irradiation generate nanoscale holes in the plasma membrane for direct delivery of drugs into the cytoplasm. Inspired by previous work showing that laser excitation of carbon nanoparticles can drive the carbon-steam reaction to generate highly controlled shock waves, we show that carbon black nanoparticles activated by femtosecond laser pulses can facilitate the delivery of small molecules, proteins and DNA into two types of cells. Our initial results suggest that interaction between the laser energy and carbon black nanoparticles may generate photoacoustic forces by chemical reaction to create transient holes in the membrane for intracellular delivery.

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