Comparison shows value of DNA barcoding in selecting nanoparticles
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IMAGE: This close-up image shows a microfluidic chip used to fabricate nanoparticles that could be used to deliver therapeutic genes to specific organs of the body. Colored liquids have been added… view more 

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Credit: Rob Felt, Georgia Tech

The first direct comparison of in vitro and in vivo screening techniques for identifying nanoparticles that may be used to transport therapeutic molecules into cells shows that testing in lab dishes isn’t much help in predicting which nanoparticles will successfully enter the cells of living animals.

The new study demonstrated the advantages of an in vivo DNA barcoding technique, which attaches small snippets of DNA to different lipid-based nanoparticles that are then injected into living animals; more than a hundred nanoparticles can be tested in a single animal. DNA sequencing techniques are then used to identify which nanoparticles enter the cells of specific organs, making the particles candidates for transporting gene therapies to treat such killers as heart disease, cancer and Parkinson’s disease.

The traditional technique for identifying promising nanoparticles examines how the particles enter living cells kept in lab dishes. To compare the new and old screening techniques, the researchers added barcoded nanoparticles to living cells in lab dishes, and injected identical barcoded nanoparticles into

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