Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Is that nano in your genes ...?

Nanoparticles used to successfully deliver gene therapy (Science Blog)

    A gene therapy method that doesn't rely on potentially toxic viruses as vectors may be growing closer as the result of in vitro research results reported by University at Buffalo scientists in the current online issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The paper, which describes the successful uptake of a fluorescent gene by cells using novel nanoparticles developed as DNA carriers at UB, demonstrates that the nanoparticles ultimately may prove an efficient and desirable alternative vector to viruses.

    Using confocal microscopy and fluorescent spectroscopy, the UB scientists tracked optically in real-time the process known as transfection, including the delivery of genes into cells, the uptake of genes by the nucleus and their expression.

    "We have shown that using photonics, the gene-therapy transfer can be monitored, tracking how the nanoparticle penetrates the cell and releases its DNA in the nucleus," explained Paras N. Prasad, Ph.D., executive director of the UB Institute for Lasers, Photonics and Biophotonics, SUNY Distinguished Professor in the Department of Chemistry in the University at Buffalo's College of Arts and Sciences, and a co-author of the paper. More here

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Anonymous said...

Was interested in that research myself for a possible story. Still, while the press release mentions viral vectors can provoke immune responses and that the nanoparticles can act as gene therapy vectors, the press release and the PNAS paper neglected to mention to my satisfaction whether the nanoparticles provoked immune responses. Shrug. -- Charles Q. Choi

Howard Lovy said...

Hi, Charles. Welcome to the NanoBot discussion. I enjoy your work.

I haven't looked at this carefully yet, and would need to make some calls on it, but it sounds to me like they don't yet know what the immune response would be since they have yet to test it inside a living organism. This paragraph indicates that's the next step:

"The UB researchers now are collaborating on in vivo studies with colleagues from the UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences to use their novel nanoparticles to transfect neuronal cells in the brains of mice."

I'd keep an eye on this collaboration. The next piece of "breaking news" will depend on what happens inside those mice's brains.