Nanodiamonds Advance Anticancer Gene Therapy

Sep 25, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Gene therapy holds promise in the treatment of cancer as well as a large number of other diseases. However, developing a scalable system for delivering genes to cells both efficiently and safely has been challenging. Now, two teams of researchers have developed versatile nanotechnology-enabled platforms that could get therapeutic genes safely and efficiently into cancer cells.

In one study, a team of Northwestern University researchers has shown that can serve as a novel gene delivery technology that combines key enhanced delivery efficiency along with outstanding biocompatibility, all in one package. “Finding a more efficient and biocompatible method for gene delivery than is currently available is a major challenge in medicine,” said Dean Ho, Ph.D., who led the research. “By harnessing the innate advantages of nanodiamonds, we now have demonstrated their promise for .”

Dr. Ho and his research team engineered surface-modified nanodiamond particles that successfully and efficiently delivered DNA into mammalian cells. The delivery efficiency was 70 times greater than that of a conventional standard for gene delivery. The results of these experiments were published in the journal ACS Nano. Dr. Ho and his research team originally demonstrated the application of nanodiamonds for chemotherapeutic delivery (click here for an earlier story).

Multiple barriers confront conventional approaches, making it difficult to integrate both high-efficiency delivery and biocompatibility into one gene delivery system. But the Northwestern researchers were able to do just that by functionalizing the nanodiamond surface with a low-molecular-weight polymer known as PEI800. PEI800 is currently used in gene therapy clinical trials, and although it is biocompatible, it does not deliver DNA to cells with high efficiency. The combination of PEI800 and nanodiamonds produced a 70-fold enhancement in delivery efficiency over PEI800 alone, and the biocompatibility of PEI800 was preserved. The process is highly scalable, which holds promise for translational capability.

The researchers used a human cervical cancer cell line called HeLa to test the efficiency of gene delivery using the functionalized nanodiamonds. Glowing green cells confirmed the delivery and insertion into the cells of a DNA sequence that codes for green fluorescent protein. This experiment served as a demonstrative model of how specific disease-fighting DNA strands could be delivered to .

This work is detailed in the paper “Polymer-functionalized nanodiamond platforms as vehicles for .” An investigator from Shinshu University in Japan also participated in this study. An abstract of this paper is available at the journal’s Web site.

Provided by National Cancer Institute (news : web)

Explore further: Molecular beacons shine light on how cells 'crawl'

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Promise of nanodiamonds for safer gene therapy

Sep 01, 2009

Gene therapy holds promise in the treatment of a myriad of diseases, including cancer, heart disease and diabetes, among many others. However, developing a scalable system for delivering genes to cells both efficiently and ...

Mining Tiny Diamonds for Drug Delivery

Nov 08, 2007

Northwestern University researchers have shown that nanodiamonds are effective at delivering chemotherapy drugs to cells without the negative effects associated with current drug delivery agents. Their study, published in ...

Nanodiamond Drug Device Could Transform Cancer Treatment

Oct 27, 2008

A team of investigators at Northwestern University has developed a promising nanomaterial-based biomedical device that could be used to deliver chemotherapy drugs locally to sites where cancerous tumors have been surgically ...

Nanoengineers mine tiny diamonds for drug delivery

Oct 13, 2007

Northwestern University researchers have shown that nanodiamonds -- much like the carbon structure as that of a sparkling 14 karat diamond but on a much smaller scale -- are very effective at delivering chemotherapy drugs ...

Nanodiamonds deliver insulin for wound healing

Jul 27, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Bacterial infection is a major health threat to patients with severe burns and other kinds of serious wounds such as traumatic bone fractures. Recent studies have identified an important new weapon for fighting ...

Nanoscale 'Fountain Pen' Draws Therapeutic Nanodiamonds

Jun 29, 2009

A research team at Northwestern University has developed a tool that can precisely deliver tiny doses of drug-carrying nanomaterials to individual cells. The tool, called the nanofountain probe, functions in two different ...

Recommended for you

Molecular beacons shine light on how cells 'crawl'

Oct 24, 2014

Adherent cells, the kind that form the architecture of all multi-cellular organisms, are mechanically engineered with precise forces that allow them to move around and stick to things. Proteins called integrin ...

User comments : 0