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Biochemical screening is a major source of lead generation for novel targets. However, during the process of small molecule lead optimization, compounds with excellent biochemical activity may show poor cellular potency, making structure-activity relationships difficult to decipher. This may be due to low membrane permeability of the molecule, resulting in insufficient intracellular drug concentration. The Cell Squeeze platform increases permeability regardless of compound structure by mechanically disrupting the membrane, which can overcome permeability limitations and bridge the gap between biochemical and cellular studies. In this study, we show that poorly permeable Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitors are delivered into primary cells using Cell Squeeze, inhibiting up to 90% of the JAK pathway, while incubation of JAK inhibitors with or without electroporation had no significant effect. We believe this robust intracellular delivery approach could enable more effective lead optimization and deepen our understanding of target engagement by small molecules and functional probes.

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The cell membrane – the fundamental architecture of living things, the foundation of how our very bodies are organized – is a major pain in the behind. I express this ungrateful opinion merely because over the years it has rejected entry to some...