The average persons heart pumps about a gallon of blood per minute, a rate that can easily triple or quadruple during exercise.
The rapid flow of blood through the body is a major roadblock to the use of gene therapy to cure diseases. When injected into the blood, vector viruses – which carry corrective genes – tend to shoot past the target organ or tissue rather than sticking to it, like grains of sand moving past stones in a fast-flowing river.
Now, University of Florida gene therapy and biomedical engineering researchers have demonstrated a novel approach to the problem. In a July article in Molecular Therapy, they report attaching the adeno-associated virus, a widely used gene carrier, to the surface of tiny manufactured balls known as microspheres, each containing a miniscule particle of iron oxide. Using a magnet placed under culture dishes, the researchers were able to coax large amounts of the microspheres to target areas of the cultures. In related experiments in mice, the researchers showed the microspheres clung to cells or organs longer than the virus alone did.
Barry Byrne | EurekAlert!
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