Many genes that are related to particular diseases have now been identified. Scientists are trying to use this knowledge to treat diseases.
It is thought that defective or missing genes could be replaced by introducing the relevant gene into cells from the outside. This is not so simple, because DNA cannot easily pass through cell membranes; it needs a transporter, such as a virus, liposome, or special peptide. A European team of researchers has now developed a new approach: they have succeeded in slipping DNA into mammalian cells by using modified carbon nanotubes.
Carbon nanotubes are tiny needle-shaped structures made exclusively of carbon atoms. They can be pictured as one or more layers of a rolled up sheet of graphite. They have become the focus of much interest as materials for biomedicine as well as other technical applications.