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August 1, 2005

Nanoparticles Pass Muster as Vectors for Gene Therapy

Topics: Medicine

Gene therapy, in which a viral vector is used to modify defective genes or replace missing ones, has shown significant potential as a way of treating disease in animal models. But its use in humans has been hampered by safety concerns, including some fatalities in clinical trials. So researchers have been looking into the possibility of using nonviral vectors, which should carry fewer inherent risks, to deliver therapeutic genes.

nanoparticle vector.gif

In a paper published online this week by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, scientists report that silicon nanoparticles can perform this task successfully in mice. The researchers also investigated the possibility of manipulating the behavior of specific brain cells, instead of solely tagging their presence. This resulted in the discovery that the nanoparticles can be used to reactivate adult stem cells by altering a nuclear growth factor receptor. The study's co-author, Earl J. Bergey, says that the team will next test the approach on larger animals, and hopefully, in the future, the technology could make it possible to repair neurological damage caused by disease, trauma or stroke.

Posted by Hyscience at August 1, 2005 9:55 PM

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