16 March 2018

Nanocopies instead of viruses

Researchers from The University of California at Los Angeles (The University of California, Los Angeles, UCLA) have developed "nanocopies" – microscopic structures similar to sharp glass fragments that can be used to deliver biomolecules to patient cells.

Nanocopies before being launched into cell culture for gene delivery.
Source: UCLA Broad Stem Cell Research Center/ACS Nano.

Gene therapy, which consists in adding replacing or correcting missing or defective genes, is a promising method of treating a number of diseases, including hemophilia, muscular dystrophy, immunodeficiency and some types of cancer.

Modern gene therapy is based on the use of modified viruses, an electric field or chemicals to penetrate the cell wall and deliver genes to the nucleus. Each of these methods has its drawbacks: high price, low efficiency or toxicity to cells.

Scientists led by Paul S. Weiss decided to create a gene delivery vehicle devoid of undesirable effects. They developed nanocopies made of silicon, nickel and gold. They can be created inexpensively, quickly and in large quantities. Their sharp tips are so small that they allow genes to be delivered without causing any damage to the cell.

Drawing from an article in ACS Nano

Nanocopies move due to the nickel coating under the influence of a magnetic field. This eliminates the use of toxic chemicals as "fuel".

To test the performance, the genes responsible for the synthesis of green fluorescent protein were placed on the nanocopies. About 80% of the cells to which the delivery was carried out gave a bright green glow, 90% of the target cells survived. These indicators indicate that the vast majority of cells received the gene, and the delivery itself was careful and safe.

Nanocopies solve another important problem of scientists – the lack of time. As a rule, the technologies used for gene and immunotherapy require a long wait. The new method will noticeably accelerate the development of innovations in these areas of research.

The authors of the article actively cooperate with researchers involved in the development of treatment methods for specific diseases, providing them with a tool for quickly and accurately carrying out their projects and testing hypotheses.

Article X. Xu et al. Precision-Guided Nanospears for Targeted and High-Throughput Intracellular Gene Delivery is published in the journal ACS Nano.

Aminat Adzhieva, portal "Eternal Youth" http://vechnayamolodost.ru based on UCLA materials: Nanostructures created by UCLA scientists could make gene therapies safer, faster and more affordable.

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