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Chasing tiny vehicles
Date:7/20/2009

Nanoparticles are just billionths of a millimeter in size. Exhibiting novel and often surprising properties, they are finding their way into an endless stream of equally innovative products. In medical therapies, for example, tiny nanovehicles could one day ferry drugs or even genes into cells. So far, the only way of testing these approaches has been to wait for the desired effect to show the activation of a transported gene inside a cell for example. Under the direction of LMU Munich physicochemist Professor Christoph Bruchle, a research group cooperating with Dr. Christian Plank of the Technische Universitt Mnchen (TUM) has now used a highly sensitive microscopic technique to pursue individual nanoparticles as they make their way into target cells in real-time and at high spatial and temporal resolution. They tested magnetic nanoparticles that could be used, among other things, in cancer therapy. This approach should also allow a better understanding of existing nanovectors as well as the development of new systems, as reported in the current cover story of the Journal of Controlled Release. (Journal of Controlled Release, 20 July 2009)

Nanoparticles are so small that many barriers in the body simply can't stop them. They can also use the bloodstream to reach any part of the body. Researchers and doctors alike hope that these tiny vehicles will one day be put to work in therapies carrying drugs directly to the seat of a disease. "Even genes can be transported this way," says Plank. "That means we could be seeing new breakthroughs in gene therapy soon, which has seen more than its fair share of setbacks. After all, lacking most are functional transporters." Such vehicles or vectors have been developed mainly from viruses until now. But even deactivated viruses can sometimes trigger unwanted side-effects. Nanoferries, on the other hand, have been tailored to deliver genes or drugs directly to the target without side-effects.

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Contact: Professor Christoph Braeuchle
christoph.braeuchle@cup.uni-muenchen.de
49-892-180-77547
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitt Mnchen
Source:Eurekalert

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