Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

'Jumping Genes' Could Make For Safer Gene Delivery System

Date:
September 30, 2007
Source:
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Summary:
To move a gene from point A to point B, scientists and gene therapists have two proven options: a virus, which can effectively ferry genes of interest into cells, and a plasmid, an engineered loop of DNA that can do the same thing, albeit usually only on a short-term basis.

To move a gene from point A to point B, scientists and gene therapists have two proven options: a virus, which can effectively ferry genes of interest into cells, and a plasmid, an engineered loop of DNA that can do the same thing, albeit usually only on a short-term basis.

Related Articles


The catch is that viruses can be infectious and some types of viruses occasionally land in a target genome near an oncogene and raise the risk of cancer. Plasmids don't carry that risk, but they are not nearly as efficient at reproducing in cells, which is important when the goal is to integrate an introduced gene into the targeted cells of the organism or patient.

Now, however, the advent of new nonviral gene delivery systems using transposons, or "jumping genes," provides a safer alternative than viruses and more efficient delivery than plasmids, according to a publication by a University of Wisconsin-Madison molecular biologist and biological safety expert.

In an article in the current issue (September) of the journal Applied Biosafety, UW-Madison molecular biologist and associate biological safety officer Margy Lambert describes the gene delivery potential of transposons, stretches of DNA capable of jumping from one DNA molecule to another.

"Almost any application where you use viral vectors, you could use this technique," explains Lambert. "You can do a lot with it, and it is safer. Problems with viral vectors are extremely rare, but the consequences can be severe."

Gene therapy, says Lambert, is one area where the new technology could make a name for itself. At present, there are an estimated 140 gene therapy trials under way in the United States. Most are aimed at treating fatal conditions such as cancer. Many use the less efficient plasmids as expression vectors, but some utilize viruses and no gene therapy treatment has been deemed safe or effective enough to merit Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval as a routine therapy.

And sometimes unanticipated outcomes that belie the safety of current gene therapy strategies manifest themselves in tragedy. In July, for example, a 36-year-old Illinois woman died after experimental gene therapy treatment in which an engineered virus was injected into her knee to treat rheumatoid arthritis. The viruses used were engineered to suppress the immune system only in the knee. In the case of rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system is out of whack and is responsible for the painful inflammation characteristic of the condition. The FDA has placed the trial on hold while the cause of death is investigated.

Transposons, or jumping genes, argues Lambert, are a potentially safer way to go. "You lose the infectivity component and you minimize the insertional mutagenesis risk."

Techniques for targeting transposon vectors to regions of the genome devoid of cancer genes are being refined. Meanwhile, a key advantage over simple plasmids is that jumping gene technology is more effective at achieving stable expression of genes introduced into animal cells.

To harness jumping genes, researchers use an enzyme to ferry a desired DNA sequence from one DNA molecule to another inside a cell. The enzyme can then be turned off to stop genes from jumping.

Lambert acknowledged there are both technical and safety issues to be worked out in the development of transposon vectors before they could be tried in human therapy. But the use of such new vectors "offers a great opportunity to maximize the advantages and minimize the drawbacks of existing delivery systems."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Wisconsin-Madison. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Wisconsin-Madison. "'Jumping Genes' Could Make For Safer Gene Delivery System." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 September 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/09/070926172158.htm>.
University of Wisconsin-Madison. (2007, September 30). 'Jumping Genes' Could Make For Safer Gene Delivery System. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/09/070926172158.htm
University of Wisconsin-Madison. "'Jumping Genes' Could Make For Safer Gene Delivery System." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/09/070926172158.htm (accessed December 18, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

UN: Up to One Million Facing Hunger in Ebola-Hit Countries

UN: Up to One Million Facing Hunger in Ebola-Hit Countries

AFP (Dec. 17, 2014) Border closures, quarantines and crop losses in West African nations battling the Ebola virus could lead to as many as one million people going hungry, UN food agencies said on Wednesday. Duration: 00:52 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) Can fat disappear into thin air? New research finds that during weight loss, over 80 percent of a person's fat molecules escape through the lungs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Why Your Boss Should Let You Sleep In

Why Your Boss Should Let You Sleep In

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) According to research out of the University of Pennsylvania, waking up for work is the biggest factor that causes Americans to lose sleep. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Flu Outbreak Closing Schools in Ohio

Flu Outbreak Closing Schools in Ohio

AP (Dec. 17, 2014) A wave of flu illnesses has forced some Ohio schools to shut down over the past week. State officials confirmed one pediatric flu-related death, a 15-year-old girl in southern Ohio. (Dec. 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins