DNA ‘barcoding’ allows rapid testing of nanoparticles for therapeutic delivery

Using tiny snippets of DNA as “barcodes,” researchers have developed a new technique for rapidly screening the ability of nanoparticles to selectively deliver therapeutic genes to specific organs of the body. The technique could accelerate the development and use of gene therapies for such killers as heart disease, cancer and Parkinson’s disease.

Genetic therapies, such as those made from DNA or RNA, are hard to deliver into the right cells in the body. For the past 20 years, scientists have been developing nanoparticles made from a broad range of materials and adding compounds such as cholesterol to help carry these therapeutic agents into cells. But the rapid development of nanoparticle carriers has run into a major bottleneck: the nanoparticles have to be tested, first in cell culture, before a very small number of nanoparticles is tested in animals. With millions of possible combinations, identifying the optimal nanoparticle to target each organ was highly inefficient.

Using DNA strands just 58 nucleotides long, researchers from the University of Florida, Georgia Institute of Technology and Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a new testing technique that skips the cell culture testing altogether—and could allow hundreds of different types of nanoparticles to be tested simultaneously in just a handful of animals.

 

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Image Credit:     Rob Felt, Georgia Tech

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2017-02-15T09:04:28+00:00

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