Researchers deliver biodegradable gene carrier

03 June 2020 | Muriel Cozier

Shinshu University and Toshiba collaborate on non-virus carrier of therapeutic genes.

Researchers from Toshiba Corporation and the Department of Paediatrics, Shinshu University, Japan, have developed a technology to ‘accurately and efficiently deliver therapeutic genes to targeted cancer cells and achieve safer gene delivery than viruses used as carriers.’

The tumour-tropic liposome technology has been demonstrated to deliver the therapeutic gene to T-cell leukaemia cells and achieve a ’30-fold increase in uptake and a 400-fold increase in gene expression than normal T-cells.’ The technology is expected to reduce burdens on patients during treatment and offers the potential to develop new treatments for other cancers, the researchers said.

The technology is based around nano-sized biodegradable liposomes, developed by Toshiba. These liposomes are composed primarily of a unique lipid that degrades in cells. The researchers added that the gene therapy applies the latest advances in biotechnology, using information from a gene to synthesise a functional gene product in an affected cell.

Therapeutic genes need a carrier to introduce them into a cell; current methods often achieve this by using a virus as the carrier. However, this approach comes with concerns related to the risk of infection and cell tropism.

The work carried out by Toshiba and Shinshu University was presented at the 2020 Annual Meeting of the American Society for Gene & Cell Therapy during May, which was held virtually.

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