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Posted: March 5, 2009

Gene transfer with the aid of magnetic nanoparticles

(Nanowerk News) Magnetic nanoparticles are applied today routinely as a contrast agent for magnetic resonance imaging. In addition to medical diagnostics, there are also approaches to utilize magnetic nanoparticles for therapy. In these applications, the interaction of these nanometer sized particles with external magnetic fields is designed to give rise to a therapeutic effect on the surrounding tissue.
A new development is the use of magnetic nanoparticles for the support of gene transfer, i.e. the delivery of genetic material to living cells. Gene transfer can be achieved by, e.g., by using gene carriers that are derived from viruses.
Researcher of the university of Bonn recently investigated if and how magnetic nanoparticles can support or even enable gene transfer under clinically relevant experimental conditions ("Combined targeting of lentiviral vectors and positioning of transduced cells by magnetic nanoparticles"). For the transduction of human cells, gene carriers were coupled to magnetic nanoparticles and dragged into the cells by magnetic field gradients.
The efficiency of magnetic transduction turned out to be much higher than the nonmagnetic procedure. An additional welcome side effect is the "magnetization" of the cells after the incorporation of nanoparticles. This may enable the targeted transport of the cells to regions of interest.
A closer look at the underlying mechanism of magnetic gene transfer was taken by the quantification of the magnetic material that was delivered to the cells. The required highly sensitive measurements in the range of a few picogramm per cell were made by PTB using magnetorelaxometry. The good correlation between measurement data and gene transfer encourages to use magnetorelaxometry for monitoring the efficiency of gene and cell transfer, possibly even in vivo.
Source: Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt