CellSqueeze is a high-throughput vector-free microfluidic platform for intracellular delivery developed by Dr. Armon Sharei, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the labs of Prof. Robert S. Langer and Prof. Klavs Jensen. CellSqueeze mechanically deforms cells as they pass through a constriction smaller than the cell diameter. The resulting controlled application of compression and shear forces results in the formation of transient holes that enable diffusion of material from the surrounding buffer into the cells. It eliminates the possibility of toxicity or off-target effects as it does not rely on exogenous materials or electrical fields.
It is a generalized approach for getting molecules of all shapes and sizes into any type of cell. The method has demonstrated the ability to deliver a range of material, such as carbon nanotubes, proteins, and siRNA, to 11 cell types, including embryonic stem cells and immune cells. When used for the delivery of transcription factors, the microfluidic devices produced a 10-fold improvement in colony formation relative to electroporation and cell-penetrating peptides.
The device, known as a microfluidic delivery platform, is made up of channels etched into a silicon microchip through which cells initially can flow freely. However, as the cells move through the device—like an inner tube along a water slide—the channel width narrows until a cell finds itself in a tight spot—forced to fit through a space that is narrower than the cell. The supple cell membrane allows the cell to squeeze through the constriction. However, the forced, rapid change in cell shape creates temporary holes in the cell membrane, without permanently damaging or killing the cell.
While the cell membrane is temporarily disrupted, the molecules to be delivered pass through the holes in the membrane and enter the cell. As the cell rebounds to its normal shape, the holes in the membrane close; the cell is loaded successfully. Virtually any type of molecule can be delivered into large numbers of any type of cell.
- Armon Sharei, Janet Zoldan, Andrea Adamo, Woo Young Sim, Nahyun Cho, Emily Jackson, Shirley Mao, Sabine Schneider, Min-Joon Han, Abigail Lytton-Jean, Pamela A. Basto, Siddharth Jhunjhunwala, Jungmin Lee, Daniel A. Heller, Jeon Woong Kang, George C. Hartoularos, Kwang-Soo Kim, Daniel G. Anderson, Robert Langer, and Klavs F. Jensen (2013). "A vector-free microfluidic platform for intracellular delivery". PNAS. doi:10.1073/pnas.1218705110.
- How It Works. SQZ Biotech. Retrieved on 2014-05-18.
- Researchers put squeeze on cells to deliver. Rdmag.com (2013-07-22). Retrieved on 2014-05-18.
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