Unprotected cells are sensitive to changes in their environment, including temperature, pH, and osmotic pressure. Zhu et al. have developed a facile route to encapsulating mammalian cells inside functional nanoparticles. A range of nanoparticles, encompassing several types of metal-organic frameworks, mesoporous silica, and iron oxide, were mixed with interparticle ligands to form a shell or exoskeleton around HeLa cells. The rapid complexation of the particles prevented uptake via endocytotic pathways. The cells are then protected from changes in their surrounding conditions, including the presence of toxins and pathogens larger than 5 nanometers, and can be recovered via chelation of the shell. Depending on the choice of nanoparticle, the caged cells can exhibit magnetic, conductive, or fluorescent properties.



Adv. Mater. 31, 1900545 (2019).



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