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Posted: Nov 11, 2014
A new nanomachine shows potential for light-selective gene therapy
(Nanowerk News) Gene therapy has great potential to treat intractable diseases such as cancer, arterial sclerosis, and Parkinson's disease. Successful gene therapy requires a gene vector that can deliver the therapeutic gene selectively to the target site. However, the concern is that conventional gene vectors can cause non-selective transfection to normal organs, whereby genetic material infiltrates healthy cells and leads to unfavorable side effects.
A new nanomachine created by researchers at Tokyo Tech promotes gene transfection in cancer tumors in mice, using a light-induced gene transfer system.
The researchers created the nanomachine using sequential self-assembly of DNA, ABC-type triblock copolymer, and dendrimeric photosensitizer in water. The device has three functional nanocompartments: a hydrophilic shell which allows the nanomachine to avoid interaction with biological components en-route to its intended destination, a photosensitizer-loaded intermediate layer for promoting gene transfection efficiency in a light-induced manner, and DNA-loaded core.
Using their new gene vector, Nishiyama and his team accomplished systemic light-selective gene transfer into a subcutaneous tumor in a mouse. Results also showed that the nanomachine was 100 times more efficient at gene transfection to cultured cells than other techniques. Owing to its light-selectivity, the light-responsive nanomachine could offer a non-invasive gene therapy for cancer in the future.