Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

MIT works toward safer gene therapy

07.09.2007
Biodegradable polymers replace viruses to deliver genes

In work that could lead to safe and effective techniques for gene therapy, MIT researchers have found a way to fine-tune the ability of biodegradable polymers to deliver genes.

Gene therapy, which involves inserting new genes into patients' cells to fight diseases like cancer, holds great promise but has yet to realize its full potential, in part because of safety concerns over the conventional technique of using viruses to carry the genes.

The new MIT work, published this week in Advanced Materials, focuses on creating gene carriers from synthetic, non-viral materials. The team is led by Daniel Anderson, research associate in MIT's Center for Cancer Research.

... more about:
»DNA »nanoparticle »safer »therapy

“What we wanted to do is start with something that's very safe-a biocompatible, degradable polymer-and try to make it more effective, instead of starting with a virus and trying to make it safer,” said Jordan Green, a graduate student in biological engineering and co- first author of the paper.

Gregory Zugates, a former graduate student in chemical engineering now at WMR Biomedical, Inc., is also a co-first author of the paper.

Gene therapy has been a field of intense research for nearly 20 years. More than 1,000 gene-therapy clinical trials have been conducted, but to date there are no FDA-approved gene therapies. Most trials use viruses as carriers, or vectors, to deliver genes.

However, there are risks associated with using viruses. As a result, many researchers have been working on developing non-viral methods to deliver therapeutic genes.

The MIT scientists focused on three poly(beta-amino esters), or chains of alternating amine and diacrylate groups, which had shown potential as gene carriers. They hoped to make the polymers even more efficient by modifying the very ends of the chains.

When mixed together, these polymers can spontaneously assemble with DNA to form nanoparticles. The polymer-DNA nanoparticle can act in some ways like an artificial virus and deliver functional DNA when injected into or near the targeted tissue.

The researchers developed methods to rapidly optimize and test new polymers for their ability to form DNA nanoparticles and deliver DNA.

They then chemically modified the very ends of the degradable polymer chains, using a library of different small molecules.

“Just by changing a couple of atoms at the end of a long polymer, one can dramatically change its performance,” said Anderson. “These minor alterations in polymer composition significantly increase the polymers' ability to deliver DNA, and these new materials are now the best non-viral DNA delivery systems we've tested.”

The polymers have already been shown to be safe in mice, and the researchers hope to ultimately run clinical trials with their modified polymers, said Anderson.

Non-viral vectors could prove not only safer than viruses but also more effective in some cases. The polymers can carry a larger DNA payload than viruses, and they may avoid the immune system, which could allow multiple therapeutic applications if needed, said Green.

One promising line of research involves ovarian cancer, where the MIT researchers, in conjunction with Janet Sawicki at the Lankenau Institute for Medical Research, have demonstrated that these polymer- DNA nanoparticles can deliver DNA at high levels to ovarian tumors without harming healthy tissue.

Other MIT authors on the paper are Nathan Tedford, a former graduate student in biological engineering now at Epitome Biosystems; Linda Griffith, professor of biological engineering; Douglas Lauffenberger, head of biological engineering, and Institute Professor Robert Langer. Sawicki and Yu-Hung Huang of the Lankenau Institute are also co-authors.

The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense and the National Science Foundation.

The MIT Center for Cancer Research (CCR) was founded in 1974 and is one of eight National Cancer Institute-designated basic research centers. Its mission is to apply the tools of basic science and technology to determine how cancer is caused, progresses and responds to treatment.

Anne Trafton | MIT News Office
Further information:
http://www.mit.edu

Further reports about: DNA nanoparticle safer therapy

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth
09.12.2016 | Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

nachricht Plant-based substance boosts eyelash growth
09.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Polymerforschung IAP

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Electron highway inside crystal

Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.

Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth

09.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Scientists produce a new roadmap for guiding development & conservation in the Amazon

09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Satellites, airport visibility readings shed light on troops' exposure to air pollution

09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>