Monday, June 3, 2013

Biochemists develop new technology to transfer DNA into cells

On any given day, Jason Atkins and Mohit Patel can be found toiling away inside a chemical biology laboratory at the University of Missouri–St. Louis. And they love every minute of it.

“It doesn’t feel like work,” Atkins says. “This is what I love to do. It’s fun.”

Atkins, of Maryland Heights, Mo., and Patel, of Normandy, Mo., are research associates at the university, both pursuing doctoral degrees in biology and working in the laboratory of George Gokel, director of the Center for Nanoscience at UMSL.

Much of Atkins and Patel’s research centers on ion channels—proteins that act as pores within cell membranes and enable electrical currents to pass in and out of cells. They recently developed new technology to transfer DNA into cells. The development is an inexpensive and non-toxic method to help DNA cross the cell membrane so that cells can be modified.

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