Although geneticists use a variety of gene transfer methods to introduce foreign DNA into microbial, plant, and animal cells, many important organisms do not respond to these established techniques. Problems with delivering genes in a reproducible, cost-effective, and timely manner still preyent researchers from manipulating certain genomes.

But a new transformation technique, called particle gun technology, has overcome many of the obstacles of existing techniques and holds promise for becoming a universal gene delivery system and a means to introduce drugs and other biologically itnportant substances into cells.

First developed in 1984 by John Sanford, Edward Wolf, and Nelson Allen at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. particle gun devices propel millions of DNA-coated particles past rigid plant cell walls and delicate membranes, allowing direct deposit of genetic material into living cells, intact tissues, and microscopic organelles.

Gene guns operate on the principle that under certain conditions, DNA and other genetic...

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