Cell reprogramming via nanotechnology for type-I diabetes

Researchers have demonstrated a technique for transfecting genes into liver cells to get them to make insulin for those with type-I diabetes—using ultrasound-generated microbubbles—instead of viruses.

Recent type-I diabetes treatment research has focused on using genetic material—transgenes—to help patients’ own pancreases grow islet cells. The typical vector being used has been viral—treatment would consist of using a virus to transfer the islet cell genes to the patient. But this approach has drawbacks, namely the risk of infection, and also the risk of an immune response that could later trigger cancer.

…it is possible to create microbubbles using ultrasound, and that these microbubbles can penetrate cell membranes and deliver a transgene payload.

Now, researchers at the Southern Medical University in Guangzhou, China, have hypothesized that we could use ultrasound-driven microbubbles instead. In a Nano Ideas article entitled Patient-specific therapy via cell-reprogramming technology: A curative potential for patients with diabetes recently published in Nanoscale Research Letters, Haizhao Luo, Xianbao Wang, Ruyi Zhang, Youping Chen, Yi Shu, Huixian Li, and Hong Chen have demonstrated that it is possible to create microbubbles using ultrasound, and that these microbubbles can penetrate cell membranes and deliver a transgene payload.

The specific mechanism would involve creating a gene delivery vector from a cross-linked polyethylenimine (PEI), and then using ultrasound to create pores in cell membranes as well as a surrounding bubble—an endocytosis. Afterwards, the endocytosis (bubble) will disintegrate, the PEI will dissolve into its component chemicals releasing the DNA for the gene, which will then be absorbed into the cell nucleus for transcription.

Luo et al. have previously demonstrated that it is possible to reprogram liver cells into insulin-producing cells, and they hypothesize that combining that proven technique with the one described above could be a way of solving the type-I diabetes puzzle.

You can read the entire article here.

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