Polymers are promising tools for gene therapy

New methods are being developed to cure illnesses with the aid of gene therapy. Polymer technology provides new and versatile possibilities for administering gene doses.

”Polymers are used to pack the gene to be transferred into particles of the size of a ten thousandth of a millimetre. These polymers effectively transport the transferable gene into affected cells and are then dissolved by the organs,” explains Project Coordinator, Professor Arto Urtti of the Bio-pharmacy Department of the University of Kuopio.

The aim of this Finnish group of researchers is to develop methods based on polymers, with the aid of which genes can be transferred into cells, which in turn start to produce the protein needed for treating the disease in question. The control of the gene transfer process is facilitated by a versatile analysis system developed by the group. With the aid of this analysis system, the complex stages and decisive mechanisms of the chain of events involved in gene transfer can be monitored. This in turn will help to make the action of the gene carrier more effective within the cell.

Gene therapy offers promising prospects for the treatment of diseases. More and more diseases are discovered to have genetic background factors and, consequently, gene transfer methods are of great importance.

This project is included in the technology programme “Polymers for Building the Future (Potra)” launched by the National Technology Agency Tekes. This technology programme comprises 26 research projects that focus, on the one hand, on new possibilities offered by polymers in the field of electronics, and, on the other hand, on polymers improving the well-being of people.

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Mira Banerjee-Rantala alphagalileo

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