Here is another small step on the way towards the creation of artificial cells as medical devices. If you can wrap nanoparticles in cell membranes, then its not hard to see that disguising any arbitrary nanomachinery that way is on the agenda - such as those that can dispense or create proteins, or perform other tasks inside our tissues.
By cloaking nanoparticles in the membranes of white blood cells, [scientists] may have found a way to prevent the body from recognizing and destroying them before they deliver their drug payloads. "Our goal was to make a particle that is camouflaged within our bodies and escapes the surveillance of the immune system to reach its target undiscovered. We accomplished this with the lipids and proteins present on the membrane of the very same cells of the immune system. We transferred the cell membranes to the surfaces of the particles and the result is that the body now recognizes these particles as its own and does not readily remove them."
Nanoparticles can deliver different types of drugs to specific cell types, for example, chemotherapy to cancer cells. But for all the benefits they offer and to get to where they need to go and deliver the needed drug, nanoparticles must somehow evade the body's immune system that recognizes them as intruders. The ability of the body's defenses to destroy nanoparticles is a major barrier to the use of nanotechnology in medicine. Systemically administered nanoparticles are captured and removed from the body within few minutes. With the membrane coating, they can survive for hours unharmed.
"Being able to use synthetic membranes or artificially-created membrane is definitely something we are planning for the future. But for now, using our white blood cells is the most effective approach because they provide a finished product. The proteins that give us the greatest advantages are already within the membrane and we can use it as-is."