“For the first time, we have demonstrated an efficient way to transfer DNA into cells without using a virus, currently the most common means of DNA delivery. Many non-viral vectors for gene therapy have been developed but few, if any, work in post-mitotic tissues such as the retina and brain. Identifying effective carriers like PEG-POD brings us closer to gene therapy to protect the retinal cells from degeneration,” said senior author Rajendra Kumar-Singh, PhD, associate professor of ophthalmology and adjunct associate professor of neuroscience at Tufts University School of Medicine (TUSM) and member of the genetics; neuroscience; and cell, molecular, and developmental biology program faculties at the Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences at Tufts.
Safe and effective delivery of therapeutic genes has been a major obstacle in gene therapy research. Deactivated viruses have frequently been used, but concerns about the safety of this method have left scientists seeking new ways to get therapeutic genes into cells.
“We think the level of gene expression seen with PEG-POD may be enough to protect the retina from degeneration, slowing the progression of eye disorders and we have preliminary evidence that this is indeed the case,” said co-author Siobhan Cashman, PhD, research assistant professor in the department of ophthalmology at TUSM and member of Kumar-Singh’s lab.
“What makes PEG-POD especially promising is that it will likely have applications beyond the retina. Because PEG-POD protects DNA from damage in the bloodstream, it may pave the way for gene therapy treatments that can be administered through an IV and directed to many other parts of the body,” said Kumar-Singh.
Kumar-Singh and colleagues used an in vivo model to compare the effectiveness of PEG-POD with two other carriers (PEG-TAT and PEG-CK30) and a control (injections of DNA alone).
“Gene expression in specimens injected with PEG-POD was 215 times greater than the control. While all three carriers delivered DNA to the retinal cells, PEG-POD was by far the most effective,” said first author Sarah Parker Read, an MD/PhD candidate at TUSM and Sackler and member of Kumar-Singh’s lab.
Age-related macular degeneration, which results in a loss of sharp, central vision, is the number one cause of vision loss in Americans age 60 and older. Retinitis pigmentosa, an inherited condition resulting in retinal damage, affects approximately 1 in 4,000 individuals in the United States.
This study was supported by grants from the National Eye Institute of the National Institutes of Health, the Foundation for Fighting Blindness, The Ellison Foundation, The Virginia B. Smith Trust, the Lions Eye Foundation, and Research to Prevent Blindness. Sarah Parker Read is part of the Sackler/TUSM Medical Scientist Training Program, which is funded by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, part of the National Institutes of Health.
Read SP, Cashman SM, Kumar-Singh R. The Journal of Gene Medicine. 2010 (January). 12(1): 86-96. “A poly(ethylene) glycolylated peptide for ocular delivery compacts DNA into nanoparticles for gene delivery to post-mitotic tissues in vivo.” Doi: 10.1002/jgm.1415About Tufts University School of Medicine and the Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences
Tufts University School of Medicine and the Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences at Tufts University are international leaders in innovative medical education and advanced research. The School of Medicine and the Sackler School are renowned for excellence in education in general medicine, biomedical sciences, special combined degree programs in business, health management, public health, bioengineering and international relations, as well as basic and clinical research at the cellular and molecular level. Ranked among the top in the nation, the School of Medicine is affiliated with six major teaching hospitals and more than 30 health care facilities. Tufts University School of Medicine and the Sackler School undertake research that is consistently rated among the highest in the nation for its impact on the advancement of medical science.
If you are a member of the media interested in learning more about this topic, or speaking with a faculty member at the Tufts University School of Medicine, the Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences, or another Tufts health sciences researcher, please contact Siobhan Gallagher at 617-636-6586 or, for this study, Lindsay Peterson at 617-636-2789.
Siobhan Gallagher | Newswise Science News
Rising water temperatures could endanger the mating of many fish species
03.07.2020 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung
Moss protein corrects genetic defects of other plants
03.07.2020 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn
Solar cells based on perovskite compounds could soon make electricity generation from sunlight even more efficient and cheaper. The laboratory efficiency of these perovskite solar cells already exceeds that of the well-known silicon solar cells. An international team led by Stefan Weber from the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) in Mainz has found microscopic structures in perovskite crystals that can guide the charge transport in the solar cell. Clever alignment of these "electron highways" could make perovskite solar cells even more powerful.
Solar cells convert sunlight into electricity. During this process, the electrons of the material inside the cell absorb the energy of the light....
Empa researchers have succeeded in applying aerogels to microelectronics: Aerogels based on cellulose nanofibers can effectively shield electromagnetic radiation over a wide frequency range – and they are unrivalled in terms of weight.
Electric motors and electronic devices generate electromagnetic fields that sometimes have to be shielded in order not to affect neighboring electronic...
A promising operating mode for the plasma of a future power plant has been developed at the ASDEX Upgrade fusion device at Max Planck Institute for Plasma...
Live event – July 1, 2020 - 11:00 to 11:45 (CET)
"Automation in Aerospace Industry @ Fraunhofer IFAM"
The Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials IFAM l Stade is presenting its forward-looking R&D portfolio for the first time at...
With an X-ray experiment at the European Synchrotron ESRF in Grenoble (France), Empa researchers were able to demonstrate how well their real-time acoustic monitoring of laser weld seams works. With almost 90 percent reliability, they detected the formation of unwanted pores that impair the quality of weld seams. Thanks to a special evaluation method based on artificial intelligence (AI), the detection process is completed in just 70 milliseconds.
Laser welding is a process suitable for joining metals and thermoplastics. It has become particularly well established in highly automated production, for...
02.07.2020 | Event News
19.05.2020 | Event News
07.04.2020 | Event News
03.07.2020 | Life Sciences
03.07.2020 | Studies and Analyses
03.07.2020 | Power and Electrical Engineering