Existing in vivo methods of modifying the surface composition of living cells such as DNA transfection are restricted to molecules that can be produced by the cell’s natural gene expression machinery. While the incorporation of synthetic materials into live cell membranes have been attempted, these techniques often deposit a uniform coating which occludes the cell surface and interferes with useful cell-environment interactions.
Macrophages are a class of human immune cells which could be modified to deliver drugs or imaging agents to targeted locations in the body. However, they are prone to internalizing foreign particles introduced to their surfaces using traditional approaches, thereby impairing the capability of these approaches to introduce surface modifications.
This technology overcomes these limitations by modifying the surface composition of live cells without interfering with their viability or ability to communicate and interact with the environment.