Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series

Worming Into Cells

PostedOctober 21, 2012

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Anchor Lede: The goal of gene therapy is to deliver vital pieces of D-N-A to places in a patient where her own genetic material is defective. But that’s a real challenge.

Randy Atkins: The D-N-A has to safely find its way to the diseased organ, enter the cells, and begin working. That’s what viruses do, so they have been used in gene therapy…but Erik Luijten, of Northwestern University, has helped chemically engineer potentially safer delivery containers.

Erik Luijten: This is the first time that DNA containing particles of different shapes have been made and have actually been used to deposit DNA into cells.

Randy Atkins: Luijten says shape is key to successfully targeting a specific organ. Compared to spherical particles, for example…

Erik Luijten: Elongated particles, worm-like particles, they have a gene expression that is 16-hundred times better in liver cells.

Randy Atkins: That’s in animals, though. Human tests are years away. With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, WTOP News.

Anchor Tag: The researchers say the technique might also be used with medicines.