Sunday, January 16, 2011
DNA Introduced Directly Into Cell Nucleus Using Protein Nanodisks
January 11, 2011
Researchers have discovered a novel gene therapy method using particles measuring only a few nanometers which encapsulate genetic material and introduce themselves directly into the cell nucleus. The nanodisks, as researchers have named the particles, travel rapidly to the interior of the cell until reaching the nucleus, thus increasing the efficiency of the gene transfer process.
One of the challenges of gene therapy — a set of methodologies aimed at treating several nucleic acid diseases (DNA or RNA) — is to assure that this material arrives directly to the nucleus of the cell without losing a substantial amount along the way and without producing any undesired side effects. With this aim, scientists experiment with the use of different types of vectors, molecules capable of transporting genetic material to the correct place. Presently, natural “deactivated” viruses are the most commonly used vectors in clinical trials, their side effects however often limit therapeutic application.
One of the most promising alternatives in this field is the use of artificial viruses. These viruses can be constructed through genetic engineering by assembling minute protein structures made up of peptides, the building blocks of proteins.