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Conor Myhrvold

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Nanoparticles Deliver Gene Therapy through the Skin

A study suggests that a gene-suppressant could someday be delivered via a cream.

  • July 13, 2012

New research shows that super-small particles can penetrate almost all of the epidermis, the outer layer of skin that normally prevents objects from making their way inside the body. The nanoparticles passed through cell membranes in the epidermis and did not cause negative skin or cellular reactions.

The nucleic acid nanoparticles that were used carried a small interfering RNA (siRNA) treatment, which acts as a gene suppressant. It can change how specific parts of our genetic makeup exert influence on the operation of cellular processes inside the body, including the unfettered cell replication which is the cause of cancer.

Since the nanoparticles made it through the skin with no adverse effects, the results suggest that siRNA could be delivered this way. siRNA gene therapy is one of the hottest areas of research currently.

The paper was published in early July in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, by scientists at the University of Illinois.

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