Georgia Tech Associate Professor Nicholas Hud (left) and Ph.D. student Christine Conwell -- along with Ph.D. student Igor Vilfan (not shown) -- have made a significant advance in controlling the size of DNA toroids. The finding could improve the efficiency of gene delivery for medical treatment and disease prevention
Georgia Tech Photo: Gary Meek
Scientists are seeking to understand the natural mechanism of DNA condensation into nanostructures - in particular, toroids. Toroids resemble tightly wound garden hoses. Shown here is a micrograph of a DNA toroid.
Image Copyright: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Researchers have found they can control the size of densely packed DNA structures by changing the salt concentration in solutions containing DNA. The finding could improve the efficiency of gene delivery for medical treatment and disease prevention.
Scientists are seeking to understand the natural mechanism of DNA condensation into nanostructures -- in particular, toroids, which look like tightly wound garden hoses. Densely packed DNA is nature’s efficient way of transporting genetic information, done particularly well by sperm cells and viruses.
Researchers want to mimic this process to improve DNA delivery for gene therapy and DNA-based vaccines, but they face many challenges in the laboratory where DNA in solution typically exists in an extended, rather than condensed state. Scientists have been able to cause DNA to condense into toroids by adding positively charged molecules to samples, but they have had difficulty finding the right molecules to achieve consistent, optimal toroid sizes of less than 50 nanometers.
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