New technique adds precision and permanence to gene therapy
Mount Sinai School of Medicine researchers cured PKU in mice with new gene therapy technique
Mount Sinai School of Medicine researchers developed a technique for inserting genes into specific sites on the genome in liver cells. The genes are inserted into non-coding regions of the genome so there is no danger of interfering with the functioning of other genes. Once inserted, the gene remains a permanent part of the cells genome. In a study published in this weeks PNAS, the researchers used this technique to cure phenylketonuria (PKU) in mice.
"To date gene therapy has relied upon vectors that randomly insert genes into the cells genome," explains Savio L. C. Woo, PhD, Professor and Chairman of Gene and Cell Medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and corresponding author on the study. "The technique we developed identifies a specific sequence which only occurs in a few places in the mammalian genome. These sequences occur between genes so there is no danger of the insertion of the gene damaging existing genes in the cell.
"Because the genes are inserted permanently, a few applications would suffice to permanently correct a disease." Dr. Woo and his colleague Li Chen , PhD, a post-doctoral fellow at Mount Sinai) were able to cure PKU in mice with just three intravenous injections. The levels of phenylalanine in the treated mice dropped to normal range and remained stable thereafter. Their fur color also changed from gray to black, indicating that they were now producing normal levels of melanin, a pigmentation which is under-produced in mice and humans with PKU.
Drs. Woo and Chen used a gene from a bacteriophage that recognizes a specific DNA sequence. This sequence occurs only several times in the entire mouse genome and it is always found in the non-coding region between genes. Similar sequences are found in a few locations in the human genome that are also between existing genes.
"The current challenge is to identify a suitable means of introducing DNA into liver cells," said Dr. Woo. "Once that technology is developed, this new technique will provide a safe and efficient means of integrating the DNA into the cells genome."
In addition to PKU, this technique could be used to cure other genetic diseases caused by missing liver enzymes including hemophilia and urea cycle enzyme deficiencies, as well as cholesterol clearing from the blood and others.
Mount Sinai Press Office | EurekAlert!
The most recent press releases about innovation >>>
Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:
New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum
An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...
HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...