Fun with cell engineering. The Howard Hughes Medical Institute funds a lot of cool stuff btw.
Therapeutic cells, such as those implanted in the body to battle cancer or replenish devastated populations of stem cells, may someday be able to carry their own life-support packets.
New research, led by Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) investigator Darrell J. Irvine, shows how transplanted cells can be loaded with minuscule particles, or nanoparticles, which contain substances that help the therapeutic cells survive and flourish. These tiny packets of drugs may provide more effective support for the therapeutic cells, and cause less harm overall, because doctors might be able to achieve therapeutic effects with smaller doses of medicine.
In this case the researchers are trying to engineer immune cells to attack HIV or cancer. I like this sort of report because it shows scientists attempting to develop a general capability for manipulating the behavior of special subsets of cells. Techniques to manipulate and enhance cells are needed in order to orchestrate groups of immune cells to attack cancer and infectious agents, and even to chew up accumulated extra-cellular trash that accumulates with age. Attempts to repair aged tissue will also benefit from the ability to load up cells with drugs, added genes, and other molecules that would make cells perform narrow focused tasks.