Researchers from the Polytechnic University of Catalonia have developed a technique that improves and cuts the cost of a technique called electroporation, which involves opening pores in cell membranes using an electric field to introduce substances like drugs and DNA. Current methods are aggressive and expensive whereas the new system manages to apply low voltage electroporation with a small printed circuit board, which costs less than a Euro per unit and does not damage cells.
Two US firms in Boston and San Francisco operating in the biotechnology equipment sector have already expressed their interest in the new system for the electroporation of cell cultures developed and patented by researchers at the Biomedical Engineering Research Centre (CREB) of the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (UPC).
Electroporation consists of opening the pores in the cell membranes using an external electric field to insert certain substances such as drugs, DNA and RNA. It is used for example in gene therapies and molecular biology experimentation. "Until now, its use has been rather restricted because current systems are expensive and awkward," as explained to SINC by the researcher Ramn Brags who undertook this project along with PhD student Toms Garca-Snchez.
Different electroporation techniques are used for example in the process of inserting exogenous nucleic acids into eukaryotic cells. This process is called transfection and in 2012 it generated a global turnover of 650 million euros, according to data from the UPC.
Brags outlines that the electroporation system developed by the UPC simplifies that process and reduces many of the costs compared to techniques being used at present. This makes its use in research easier.
The UPC's system can be applied in the electroporation of mammal cell cultures. As the researcher explains, in this case cells grow adherent to the bottom of plates. "These cells are 'accustomed' to being in a
FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology