Washington: In a major step towards gene therapy, scientists claim to have designed a new device – a nanoparticle -- which can effectively deliver genes into cells with minimal toxic effects.
In laboratory experiments, a team at Ohio State University has found that this device, a vector, is able to deliver DNA deeply enough into cell to allow genetic material
to be activated -- a critical step in gene therapy.
This vector is between two-and-a-half and 10 times more effective than other experimental materials, according to the scientists.
In fact, in their research, the scientists combined two ingredients -- calcium phosphate and a lipid shell – to create a nanoparticle that protects DNA during its journey to the cell and then dissolves to allow for gene activation in the target cell.
Nano refers to the tiny size of the particle in question -- its general structure can be detected only by an atomic force microscope.
Calcium phosphate is a mineral found in bones and teeth. Lipids are fatty molecules that help maintain the structure of cell membranes. Together, they form a protective
and inflexible structure that, thanks to complex chemical reactions, self-destructs once inside a cell.