Nanospears deliver genetic material to cells with pinpoint accuracy

In a step toward accelerating the production of new gene therapies, scientists report in ACS Nano (“Precision-Guided Nanospears for Targeted and High-Throughput Intracellular Gene Delivery“) that they have developed remote-controlled, needle-like nanospears capable of piercing membrane walls and delivering DNA into selected cells. They say the new technique, which can ferry biological materials to cells with pinpoint accuracy, overcomes many of the existing barriers to effective gene modification.

Medical interventions based on the use of genetically modified cells are an emerging area of stem cell and cancer immunology research. Existing approaches to delivering DNA into cells for producing these gene therapies include viruses, external electrical fields or harsh chemical reagents. But these methods are often costly, inefficient and harmful to the cells.

Researchers have experimented with sharp-tipped nanoparticles stuck on surfaces to deliver biomolecules to cells, but it is difficult to remove the modified cells from the nanoparticle-coated surface for further study. Self-propelled nanoparticles also can deliver molecules to cells in the body. However, these devices are difficult to precisely control and can generate toxic byproducts.

To overcome these issues, Steven J. Jonas, Paul S. Weiss, Xiaobin Xu and colleagues sought to create biocompatible nanospears that can be configured to transport DNA into cells precisely using an external magnetic field without either damaging the cells or having to use chemical propellants.

The researchers fabricated nanospears using polystyrene beads as a template…

Read more at nanowerk.com

Image Credit:  ACS

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2018-03-22T14:31:27+00:00

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