Working together, Johns Hopkins biomedical engineers and neurosurgeons report that they have created tiny, biodegradable “nanoparticles” able to carry DNA to brain cancer cells in mice. The team says the results of their proof of principle experiment suggest that such particles loaded with “death genes” might one day be given to brain cancer patients during neurosurgery to selectively kill off any remaining tumor cells without damaging normal brain tissue.
Biodegradable plastic molecules (orange) self-assemble with DNA molecules (intertwined, black circles) to form tiny nanoparticles that can carry genes to cancer cells
“In our experiments, our nanoparticles successfully delivered a test gene to brain cancer cells in mice, where it was then turned on,” says Jordan Green, Ph.D., an assistant professor of biomedical engineering and neurosurgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “We now have evidence that these tiny Trojan horses will also be able to carry genes that selectively induce death in cancer cells, while leaving healthy cells healthy.”
A summary of the research results appeared online in the journal ACS Nano.