UCLA scientists store materials in cells' natural vaults

March 8, 2005

Method may offer safer way to target drugs to living cells

In the realm of nanotechnology, or study of the tiny, scientists often aim to safely deliver and leave material in the human body without causing harm. A big challenge is how to design a package for this biomaterial that will be compatible with living cells and will not provoke an immune reaction. Previous efforts have relied upon viruses or artificial chemicals to house and deliver drugs or other substances to targeted cells.

Scientists at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA have exploited thousands of tiny capsules in cells to store vast amounts of biomaterial. Dubbed vaults – for their high arches reminiscent of cathedral ceilings – these naturally occurring capsules may prove less likely to elicit an immune response than foreign carriers like viruses.

The UCLA discovery will enable many potential applications, including:

-- Therapeutic delivery, such as homing cancer drugs directly to a tumor cell without harming healthy tissue
-- Enzyme delivery to replace missing or defective enzymes, such as those that cause Tay Sachs disease
-- DNA delivery to correct genetic mutations
-- Timed release of drugs, enzymes and DNA
-- Extracting and imprisoning cellular toxins into the vault
-- Stabilizing proteins in vaults to increase their lifespans

Publication: The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
www.pnas.org/cgi/content/abstract/0500929102v1

Source: University of California - Los Angeles

Explore further: Scientists use nanoparticles to shut down mechanism that drives cancer growth

Related Stories

Recommended for you

How bees naturally vaccinate their babies

July 31, 2015

When it comes to vaccinating their babies, bees don't have a choice—they naturally immunize their offspring against specific diseases found in their environments. And now for the first time, scientists have discovered how ...

Image: Hubble sees a dying star's final moments

July 31, 2015

A dying star's final moments are captured in this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. The death throes of this star may only last mere moments on a cosmological timescale, but this star's demise is still quite ...

Exoplanets 20/20: Looking back to the future

July 31, 2015

Geoff Marcy remembers the hair standing up on the back of his neck. Paul Butler remembers being dead tired. The two men had just made history: the first confirmation of a planet orbiting another star.

Earth flyby of 'space peanut' captured in new video

July 31, 2015

NASA scientists have used two giant, Earth-based radio telescopes to bounce radar signals off a passing asteroid and produce images of the peanut-shaped body as it approached close to Earth this past weekend.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.