Efficient DNA smugglers
In cell biology, foreign genetic material is introduced into parts of a host cell. The process, known as transfection, is applied to multiply the smuggled hereditary matter through cell division of the host cell for the purpose of analysis and functional examinations. Here, the carrier of genetic information is nucleic acid, in particular deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). However, the DNA cannot immediately penetrate the foreign cell membrane.
State of the art
In addition to physical methods such as microinjection, lipofection is often applied as a chemical method. Here, DNA lipid complexes called lipoplexes are formed out of liposomes and nucleic acid by the DNA being encapsulated by little lipid bubbles. These lipoplexes can be taken up by the host cells. In this process, transfection efficiency can vary considerably and may not be stable, depending on the cells and the lipids used.
Scientists at the KIT Institute of Toxicology and Genetics (ITG) are now providing an efficient alternative in the shape of a novel transfection material. Here, a combination of polymers is positively charged with cationic groups and polymerised. This results in the formation of structured nanoparticles onto which a relatively large amount of negatively charged genetic material can dock. The polyplex that has been formed in the process is transfected into the cell. Here, the nucleic acid is separated from the nanoparticle and can thus enter the cell nucleus or remains in the cell’s cytoplasm.
The single-step synthesis process only requires commercially traded basic ingredients and is based on standard methods, which enables a simple, cheap synthesis to be carried out. Further advantages of the novel nanoparticles include the high transfection rate and adaptability to various cell lines, such as skin or blood cells. By varying the basic ingredients in the synthesis, a multitude of tailor-made structures can be created for various cell lines, an entire library, as it were, of transfection materials.
Options for companies
Some structural variants of the particles have been tested in combination with nucleic acids to provide examples. KIT is looking for industrial partners from the fields of pharmacy and biotechnology for the licencing and application of the transfect particles.
Your contact person for this offer
Innovation Manager New Materials, Climate and Environment Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
Innovation and Relations Management (IRM) Phone: +49 721 608-26107