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Brain tumor cells penetrated by tiny, degradable particles carrying genetic instructions
Date:4/29/2014

t to chemotherapy and radiation, and capable of creating new tumors.

Quiones-Hinojosa then worked with Green to find a vehicle for genes that would cause death in the oncospheres. Green's laboratory specializes in producing tiny, round particles made up of biodegradable plastic whose properties can be optimized for completing various medical missions. By varying the atoms within the plastic, the team can make particles that have different sizes, stabilities and affinities for water or oil. For this study, Green's team created dozens of different types of particles and tested their ability to carry and deliver a test sequence of DNA specifically a gene for a red or green glowing protein to the oncospheres.

By assessing the survival of the cells that engulf the particles and measuring the levels of red or green light that they emitted, the researchers determined which formulation of particles performed best, then tested that formulation in mice with human brain cancer derived from their patients.

They injected the particles directly into mice with an experimental human brain cancer, and into the brains of healthy mice for use as comparison. Surprisingly, healthy cells rarely produced the glowing proteins, even though the DNA-carrying particles were entering tumor cells and non-tumor cells in similar numbers. "This is exactly what one would want to see, cancer specificity, but we are still researching the mechanism that allows this to occur," says Green. "We hope our continued experiments will shed light on this so that we can apply what we learn to other scenarios."

"It is exciting to have found a way to selectively target gene delivery to cancer cells," says Quiones-Hinojosa. "It's a method that is much more feasible and safer for patients than traditional gene therapy, which uses modified viruses to carry out the treatment."

He adds that the particles can be freeze-dried and stored for at least two years without losi
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Contact: Catherine Kolf
ckolf@jhmi.edu
443-287-2251
Johns Hopkins Medicine
Source:Eurekalert  

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