Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Enhancing RNA interference

25.06.2013
Helping RNA escape from cells’ recycling process could make it easier to shut off disease-causing genes.

Nanoparticles that deliver short strands of RNA offer a way to treat cancer and other diseases by shutting off malfunctioning genes. Although this approach has shown some promise, scientists are still not sure exactly what happens to the nanoparticles once they get inside their target cells.

A new study from MIT sheds light on the nanoparticles’ fate and suggests new ways to maximize delivery of the RNA strands they are carrying, known as short interfering RNA (siRNA).

“We’ve been able to develop nanoparticles that can deliver payloads into cells, but we didn’t really understand how they do it,” says Daniel Anderson, the Samuel Goldblith Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering at MIT. “Once you know how it works, there’s potential that you can tinker with the system and make it work better.”

Anderson, a member of MIT’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research and MIT’s Institute for Medical Engineering and Science, is the leader of a research team that set out to examine how the nanoparticles and their drug payloads are processed at a cellular and subcellular level. Their findings appear in the June 23 issue of Nature Biotechnology. Robert Langer, the David H. Koch Institute Professor at MIT, is also an author of the paper.

One RNA-delivery approach that has shown particular promise is packaging the strands with a lipidlike material; similar particles are now in clinical development for liver cancer and other diseases.

Through a process called RNA interference, siRNA targets messenger RNA (mRNA), which carries genetic instructions from a cell’s DNA to the rest of the cell. When siRNA binds to mRNA, the message carried by that mRNA is destroyed. Exploiting that process could allow scientists to turn off genes that allow cancer cells to grow unchecked.

Scientists already knew that siRNA-carrying nanoparticles enter cells through a process, called endocytosis, by which cells engulf large molecules. The MIT team found that once the nanoparticles enter cells they become trapped in bubbles known as endocytic vesicles. This prevents most of the siRNA from reaching its target mRNA, which is located in the cell’s cytosol (the main body of the cell).

This happens even with the most effective siRNA delivery materials, suggesting that there is a lot of room to improve the delivery rate, Anderson says.

“We believe that these particles can be made more efficient. They’re already very efficient, to the point where micrograms of drug per kilogram of animal can work, but these types of studies give us clues as to how to improve performance,” Anderson says.

Molecular traffic jam

The researchers found that once cells absorb the lipid-RNA nanoparticles, they are broken down within about an hour and excreted from the cells.

They also identified a protein called Niemann Pick type C1 (NPC1) as one of the major factors in the nanoparticle-recycling process. Without this protein, the particles could not be excreted from the cells, giving the siRNA more time to reach its targets. “In the absence of the NPC1, there’s a traffic jam, and siRNA gets more time to escape from that traffic jam because there is a backlog,” says Gaurav Sahay, an MIT postdoc and lead author of the Nature Biotechnology paper.

In studies of cells grown in the lab without NPC1, the researchers found that the level of gene silencing achieved with RNA interference was 10 to 15 times greater than that in normal cells.

Lack of NPC1 also causes a rare lysosomal storage disorder that is usually fatal in childhood. The findings suggest that patients with this disorder might benefit greatly from potential RNA interference therapy delivered by this type of nanoparticle, the researchers say. They are now planning to study the effects of knocking out the NPC1 gene on siRNA delivery in animals, with an eye toward testing possible siRNA treatments for the disorder.

The researchers are also looking for other factors involved in nanoparticle recycling that could make good targets for possibly slowing down or blocking the recycling process, which they believe could help make RNA interference drugs much more potent. Possible ways to do that could include giving a drug that interferes with nanoparticle recycling, or creating nanoparticle materials that can more effectively evade the recycling process.

The research was funded by Alnylam Pharmaceuticals and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

Written by: Anne Trafton, MIT News Office

Sarah McDonnell | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.mit.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Rutgers scientists discover 'Legos of life'
23.01.2018 | Rutgers University

nachricht Researchers identify a protein that keeps metastatic breast cancer cells dormant
23.01.2018 | Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Optical Nanoscope Allows Imaging of Quantum Dots

Physicists have developed a technique based on optical microscopy that can be used to create images of atoms on the nanoscale. In particular, the new method allows the imaging of quantum dots in a semiconductor chip. Together with colleagues from the University of Bochum, scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute reported the findings in the journal Nature Photonics.

Microscopes allow us to see structures that are otherwise invisible to the human eye. However, conventional optical microscopes cannot be used to image...

Im Focus: Artificial agent designs quantum experiments

On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.

We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...

Im Focus: Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes

So-called pre-distorted states accelerate photochemical reactions too

What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...

Im Focus: The first precise measurement of a single molecule's effective charge

For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.

Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...

Im Focus: Paradigm shift in Paris: Encouraging an holistic view of laser machining

At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.

No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

10th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Münster, 10-11 April 2018

08.01.2018 | Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Rutgers scientists discover 'Legos of life'

23.01.2018 | Life Sciences

Seabed mining could destroy ecosystems

23.01.2018 | Earth Sciences

Transportable laser

23.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>