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Promise of nanodiamonds for safer gene therapy
Date:9/1/2009

Gene therapy holds promise in the treatment of a myriad of diseases, including cancer, heart disease and diabetes, among many others. However, developing a scalable system for delivering genes to cells both efficiently and safely has been challenging.

Now a team of Northwestern University researchers has introduced the power of nanodiamonds as a novel gene delivery technology that combines key properties in one approach: enhanced delivery efficiency along with outstanding biocompatibility.

"Finding a more efficient and biocompatible method for gene delivery than is currently available is a major challenge in medicine," said Dean Ho, who led the research. "By harnessing the innate advantages of nanodiamonds we now have demonstrated their promise for gene therapy."

Ho is an assistant professor of biomedical engineering and mechanical engineering in the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science and a member of the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University.

Ho and his research team engineered surface-modified nanodiamond particles that successfully and efficiently delivered DNA into mammalian cells. The delivery efficiency was 70 times greater than that of a conventional standard for gene delivery. The new hybrid material could impact many facets of nanomedicine.

The results are published online by the journal ACS Nano.

"A low molecular weight polymer called polyethyleneimine-800 (PEI800) currently is a commercial approach for DNA delivery," said Xue-Qing Zhang, a postdoctoral researcher in Ho's group and the paper's first author. "It has good biocompatibility but unfortunately is not very efficient at delivery. Forms of high molecular weight PEI have desirable high DNA delivery efficiencies, but they are very toxic to cells."

Multiple barriers confront conventional approaches, making it difficult to integrate both high-efficiency delivery and biocompatibi
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Contact: Megan Fellman
fellman@northwestern.edu
847-491-3115
Northwestern University
Source:Eurekalert

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