Scientists Blast Holes in Cells With Lasers for High-Tech Drug Injection
Forget swallowing pills or being poked by a needle. According to ABC News, scientists at Georgia Tech University have developed a way to inject vaccines directly into cells by using a laser beam to blow holes into that most basic unit of life.
In this technique, scientists place blackened carbon nanoparticles (called "soot") next to the cells in question, which are then blasted with infrared light. As the nanoparticles heat up, a bubble is formed around the "soot." Then, when the laser is shut off, the bubble collapses, and the force blows a hole in the cell membrane. During the fraction of a second before the cell heals itself, doctors or researchers could inject drugs or other molecules, which might otherwise have a hard time penetrating the membrane.
Don't worry, though; microscopic explosions won't be happening in bodies too soon. This is cutting-edge research, after all, and it will need to be further refined before human trials could ever be considered. But the impact it could have on battling diseases, such as cancer, makes blasting cells with laser beams worth pursuing -- even if the idea sort of scares us to death. [From: ABC News]