DNA “Barcoding” Allows Rapid Testing of Nanoparticles for Therapeutic Delivery
Using tiny snippets of DNA as “barcodes,” researchers have developed a new technique for rapidly screening the ability of nanoparticles to selectively deliver therapeutic genes to specific organs of the body. The technique could accelerate the development and use of gene therapies for such killers as heart disease, cancer, and Parkinson’s disease.
Genetic therapies, such as those made from DNA or RNA, are hard to deliver into the right cells in the body. For the past 20 years, scientists have been developing nanoparticles made from a broad range of materials and adding compounds such as cholesterol to help carry these therapeutic agents into cells. But the rapid development of nanoparticle carriers has run into a major bottleneck: the nanoparticles have to be tested, first in cell culture, before a very small number of nanoparticles is tested in animals. With millions of possible combinations, identifying the optimal nanoparticle to target each organ was highly inefficient.