Magazine article USA TODAY

Ending Reliance on Toxic Viruses

Magazine article USA TODAY

Ending Reliance on Toxic Viruses

Article excerpt

A gene therapy method that does not rely on potentially toxic viruses as vectors may be growing closer as the result of in vitro research results reported by University at Buffalo (N.Y.) scientists. The study, which describes the successful uptake of a fluorescent gene by cells using novel nanoparticles developed as DNA carriers, demonstrates that the nanoparticles ultimately may prove an efficient and desirable alternative vector to viruses.

Using confocal microscopy and fluorescent spectroscopy, the scientists optically tracked--in real time--the process known as transfection, including the delivery of genes into cells, the uptake of genes by the nucleus and their expression. "We have shown that using photonics, the gene-therapy transfer can be monitored, tracking how the nanoparticle penetrates the cell and releases its DNA in the nucleus," explains Paras N. Prasad, executive director of the Institute for Lasers, Photonics and Biophonics. "When the fluorescent protein was produced in the cell, we knew transfection had occurred. …

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