A major step toward non-viral ocular gene therapy using laser and nanotechnology
In January 2009, the life of engineer Michel Meunier, a professor at Polytechnique Montréal, changed dramatically. Like others, he had observed that the extremely short pulse of a femtosecond laser (0.000000000000001 second) could make nanometre-sized holes appear in silicon when it was covered by gold nanoparticles.
But this researcher, recognized internationally for his skills in laser and nanotechnology, decided to go a step further with what was then just a laboratory curiosity. He wondered if it was possible to go from silicon to living matter, from inorganic to organic. Could the gold nanoparticles and the femtosecond laser, this “light scalpel,” reproduce the same phenomenon with living cells?
Professor Meunier started working on cells in vitro in his Polytechnique laboratory. The challenge was to make a nanometric incision in the cells’ extracellular membrane without damaging it. Using gold nanoparticles that acted as “nanolenses,” Professor Meunier realized that it was possible to concentrate the light energy coming from the laser at a wavelength of 800 nanometres. Since there is very little energy absorption by the cells at this wavelength, their integrity is preserved. Mission accomplished!
Based on this finding, Professor Meunier decided to work on cells in vivo, cells that are part of a complex living cell structure, such as the eye for example.
The eye and the light scalpel
In April 2012, Professor Meunier met Przemyslaw Sapieha, an internationally renowned eye specialist, particularly recognized for his work on the retina. “Mike”, as he goes by, is a professor in the Department of Ophthalmology at Université de Montréal and a researcher at Centre intégré universitaire de santé et de services sociaux (CIUSSS) de l’Est-de-l’Île-de-Montréal. He immediately saw the potential of this new technology and everything that could be done in the eye if you could block the ripple effect that occurs following a trigger that leads to glaucoma or macular degeneration, for example, by injecting drugs, proteins or even genes.
Using a femtosecond laser to treat the eye–a highly specialized and fragile organ–is very complex, however. The eye is part of the central nervous system, and therefore many of the cells or families of cells that compose it are neurons. And when a neuron dies, it does not regenerate like other cells do. Mike Sapieha’s first task was therefore to ensure that a femtosecond laser could be used on one or several neurons without affecting them. This is what is referred to as “proof of concept.”
C. diff might not originate from external transmission but rather from within the infected patient themselves. Hospital staff dedicate significant effort to safeguard patients from infections during their hospital stay. Through practices ranging from [...]
Google says it has made a significant step in identifying disease-causing genes, which could help spot rare genetic disorders. A new model named AlphaMissense is able to confidently classify 89 per cent of all [...]
MINDWATCH study reveals cognitive peaks with everyday pleasures. Listening to music and drinking coffee are the sorts of everyday pleasures that can impact a person’s brain activity in ways that improve cognitive performance, including [...]
Moderna has developed a new and improved version of its COVID-19 vaccine. The unique formulation (mRNA-1283) reduces the vaccine's content from the full-length SARS-CoV-2 spike protein to a narrowly focused encoding of just two [...]
Breast cancer in its various forms affects more than 250,000 Americans a year. One particularly aggressive and hard-to-treat type is triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC), which lacks specific receptors targeted by existing treatments. The rapid [...]
Scientists from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) have created a process that can upcycle most plastics into chemical ingredients useful for energy storage, using light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and a commercially available catalyst, all [...]
The mere scent of seafood can severely sicken those allergic to it — and therefore they are more likely to avoid it. Similarly, individuals who experience food poisoning from a specific dish tend to [...]
Researchers in Germany and Japan have been able to increase the diffusion of magnetic whirls, so-called skyrmions, by a factor of ten. In today’s world, our lives are unimaginable without computers. Up until now, [...]
Omicron infections have a lower risk of long COVID than earlier variants, according to a study analyzing data from 11,000 participants. The risk of developing long COVID is significantly lower following an infection with [...]
Researchers have discovered that insulin resistance, typically linked with type 2 diabetes, is also present in cancer patients and can accelerate the spread of the disease. In the 1920s, scientists found that the urine [...]
Scientists from ETH Zurich and the University of Geneva have developed a new technique that allows them to observe chemical reactions taking place in liquids at extremely high temporal resolution. This innovation enables them to track how molecules [...]
Research published recently suggests that Pfizer’s erectile dysfunction drug Viagra can decrease the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by up to 69 percent. The research, which was published in Nature, found that the medication has [...]
An AI-powered model utilizes chest X-rays to help develop biomarkers for aging. What if determining “your age” was based on your chest rather than your face? Scientists from Osaka Metropolitan University have crafted an [...]
Cancer biomarkers circulating in body fluids can be used for diagnosis and treatment monitoring. However, current detection technology lacks the required sensitivity, limiting biomarker use in clinical applications. Colorectal cancer is the second most [...]
The findings could lead to a cure for LAM. Researchers from the University of Cincinnati may have identified a potential treatment for lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM), a rare lung condition resembling cancer found predominantly in women of reproductive [...]
You can adjust all of your cookie settings by navigating the tabs on the left hand side.
Strictly Necessary Cookies
Strictly Necessary Cookie should be enabled at all times so that we can save your preferences for cookie settings.
If you disable this cookie, we will not be able to save your preferences. This means that every time you visit this website you will need to enable or disable cookies again.
What Are Cookies
For more general information on cookies see the Wikipedia article on HTTP Cookies.
You can prevent the setting of cookies by adjusting the settings on your browser (see your browser Help for how to do this). Be aware that disabling cookies will affect the functionality of this and many other websites that you visit. Disabling cookies will usually result in also disabling certain functionality and features of the this site. Therefore it is recommended that you do not disable cookies.
The Cookies We Set
Site preferences cookies. In order to provide you with a great experience on this site we provide the functionality to set your preferences for how this site runs when you use it. In order to remember your preferences we need to set cookies so that this information can be called whenever you interact with a page is affected by your preferences.
Third Party Cookies
This site uses Google Analytics which is one of the most widespread and trusted analytics solutions on the web. It helps us to understand how you use the site and ways that we can improve your experience. These cookies may track things such as how long you spend on the site and the pages that you visit so we can continue to produce engaging content. For more information on Google Analytics cookies, see the official Google Analytics page.
Hopefully that has clarified things for you and as was previously mentioned if there is something that you aren’t sure whether you need or not it’s usually safer to leave cookies enabled in case it does interact with one of the features you use on our site.
However if you are still looking for more information then you can contact us through our preferred contact method: