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July 25, 2012

A few days in Nanomedicine - regeneration, synthetic vaccines, gene therapy, medical tests 1 billion times more sensitive

1. Nano-enhanced cell regeneration (nanoparticles in the scaffolding) combined with gene therapy enables bone regeneration and could help regenerate other tissue.

Researchers at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) have developed a new method of repairing bone using synthetic bone graft substitute material, which combined with gene therapy, can mimic real bone tissue and has potential to regenerate bone in patients who have lost large areas of bone from either disease or trauma. The researchers have developed an innovative scaffold material (made from collagen and nano-sized particles of hydroxyapatite) which acts as a platform to attract the body’s own cells and repair bone in the damaged area using gene therapy. The cells are tricked into overproducing bone producing proteins known as BMPs, encouraging regrowth of healthy bone tissue. This is the first time these in-house synthesised nanoparticles have been used in this way and the method has potential to be applied to regenerate tissues in other parts of the body.


Researchers at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) have developed a new method of repairing bone using synthetic bone graft substitute material, which combined with gene therapy, can mimic real bone tissue. (Credit: © Marco Desscouleurs / Fotolia)



2. DNA nanotechnology enables a new class of synthetic vaccine. University of Arizona researchers have developed the first vaccine complex that could be delivered safely and effectively by piggybacking onto self-assembled, three-dimensional DNA nanostructures. They developed an immune response in mice that was robust immune response up to 9-fold higher than with antigen and adjuvant alone.


3. Scientists, from London Centre for Nanotechnology at Imperial College London and the University of Vigo, have created a test to detect particular molecules that indicate the presence of disease, even when these are in very low concentrations. There are already tests available for some diseases that look for such biomarkers using biological sensors or ’biosensors’. However, existing biosensors become less sensitive and predictable at detecting biomarkers when they are in very low concentrations, as occurs when a disease is in its early stages. A PSA cancer test became one billion times more sensitive.

4. Gene therapy delivered through the skin in a topical cream.

The topical delivery of gene regulation technology to cells deep in the skin is extremely difficult because of the formidable defenses skin provides for the body. The Northwestern approach takes advantage of drugs consisting of novel spherical arrangements of nucleic acids. These structures, each about 1,000 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair, have the unique ability to recruit and bind to natural proteins that allow them to traverse the skin and enter cells.

PNAS - Topical delivery of siRNA-based spherical nucleic acid nanoparticle conjugates for gene regulation

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