Researchers Develop Innovative Approach for the Remote Control of Gene & Cell Activations

Wednesday, January 17, 2018 - 10:13

A team of researchers has developed an innovative approach to use mechanogenetics for the remote control of gene and cell activations.

A team of researchers has developed an innovative approach to use mechanogenetics for the remote control of gene and cell activations.

A team of researchers developed an ultrasound-based system that can non-invasively and remotely control genetic processes in live immune T cells so that they recognize and kill cancer cells, UC San Diego reports.

There is a critical need to non-invasively and remotely manipulate cells at a distance, particularly for translational applications in animals and humans, researchers said.

The team developed an innovative approach to use mechanogenetics—a field of science that focuses on how physical forces and changes in the mechanical properties of cells and tissues influence gene expression—for the remote control of gene and cell activations. Researchers used ultrasound to mechanically perturb T cells, and then converted the mechanical signals into genetic control of cells.

In this study, researchers show how their remote-controlled mechanogenetics system can be used to engineer chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-expressing T cells that can target and kill cancer cells. The engineered CAR-T cells have mechano-sensors and genetic transducing modules that can be remotely activated by ultrasound via microbubble amplification.

The team brings together the laboratories of professors Wang and Shu Chien, both bioengineering professors at the Jacobs School of Engineering and the Institute of Engineering in Medicine at UC San Diego, in collaboration with professors Kirk Shung of the University of Southern California and Michel Sadelain at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. Researchers present their findings in the Jan. 15 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, with UC San Diego Ph.D. candidate Yijia Pan as the first author.

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