Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Magnets and Gene Therapy

The (Australian) ABC Science Online has this interesting story entitled "Magnets May Target Gene Therapy". The report focuses on the work of a Swiss scientist, Heinrich Hofmann. Hofmann believes that we might be able to drag genes (that are attached to iron oxide nanoparticles) around the body by using magnets. Here is a snippet from the report:

Gene therapy has been beset with problems including the lack of a safe and effective vector to transport therapeutic genes into cells. Hofmann says his iron oxide nanoparticles are safer than commonly used viral vectors, which can mutate and influence the DNA of cells.

" The iron oxide particle is less dangerous than a virus," he says. He also says the nanoparticles can be controlled more precisely than a virus because they can be moved into place with a magnet.

In a recent experiment, Hofmann injected iron nanoparticles attached to a green fluorescent protein gene into the joint of sheep and used a magnet to move the gene into place. The sheep cells produced green fluorescent protein that glowed green under light, proving the success of the experiment, Hoffman says.



UPDATE: Those interested in this topic might find the following publication of interest: “Gene Therapy Progress and Prospects: Magnetic Nanoparticle-Based Gene Delivery”. By J. Dodson, in Gene Therapy, 13(4): 283-7, Feb. 2006. The PubMed link is here.