Nanotechnology could deliver gene therapy in commercial products

03 July 2012

Posted by Satvir Bhullar

Nanoscience is being employed by scientists in the US to deliver gene regulation topically via commercial moisturizers.

The team from Northwestern University in Illinois, which comprises chemists and physicians, has combined nanotechnology with dermatology in order to transform the potential treatments available for skin cancers.

Life-saving treatments could be delivered using commercial products applied directly to the skin into cells within the body in order to selectively target the genes that cause diseases.

The scientists have employed nano-sized novel spherical structures consisting of arrangements of nucleic acids that can recruit and bind to natural proteins, entering cells and switching troublesome genes “;off”.

Publishing their research in the latest edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the experts claimed in addition to early targeting of skin cancers, the treatment could also be used for patients with diabetic wounds and psoriasis.

“;We can target our therapy to the drivers of disease, at a level so minute that it can distinguish mutant genes from normal genes,” stated Dr Amy Paller of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, adding that tests on human skin and mouse models have demonstrated no side effects and minimal risks.

A further breakthrough in the field of nanotechnology has been announced by a team of specialists in Germany who have been inspired by the natural world to create paints and coatings that could tackle the problem of marine fouling, which is caused when algae, barnacles and bacteria build up on surfaces in contact with water.

Vanadium pentoxide nanoparticles could be used in the future to treat ships’ hulls by mimicking natural enzymes that inhibit growth, after the team from Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) discovered they may provide the basis for coatings that are less toxic to marine life than existing options.

Wolfgang Tremel of JGU explained: "Here we have an environmentally-compatible component for a new generation of antifouling paints that employ the natural defense mechanism used by marine organisms.“;

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