Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Nanopore opens new cellular doorway for drug transport

Date:
October 23, 2013
Source:
KU Leuven
Summary:
A living cell is built with barriers to keep things out – and researchers are constantly trying to find ways to smuggle molecules in. Researchers have now engineered a biological nanopore that acts as a selective revolving door through a cell’s lipid membrane. The nanopore could potentially be used in gene therapy and targeted drug delivery.

Selective DNA transport across membranes Caption: Left: The hybridisation of a specific DNA molecule (key 1) to the DNA revolving door promotes the transport of the DNA across the nanopore. Right: A specific DNA key inside the cell compartment promotes the release of the DNA cargo and restores the initial configuration.
Credit: KU Leuven

A living cell is built with barriers to keep things out -- and researchers are constantly trying to find ways to smuggle molecules in. ‪Professor Giovanni Maglia (Biochemistry, Molecular and Structural Biology, KU Leuven) and his team have engineered a biological nanopore that acts as a selective revolving door through a cell's lipid membrane. The nanopore could potentially be used in gene therapy and targeted drug delivery.

Related Articles


All living cells are enclosed by a lipid membrane that separates the interior of the cell from the outside environment. The influx of molecules through the cell membrane is tightly regulated by membrane proteins that act as specific doorways for the trafficking of ions and nutrients. Membrane proteins can also be used by cells as weapons. Such proteins attack a cell by making holes -- nanopores -- in 'enemy' cell membranes. Ions and molecules leak from the holes, eventually causing cell death.

‪Researchers are now trying to use nanopores to smuggle DNA or proteins across membranes. Once inside a cell, the DNA molecule could re-programme the cell for a particular action. Professor Maglia explains: "‪We are now able to engineer biological nanopores, but the difficult part is to precisely control the passage of molecules through the nanopores' doorways. We do not want the nanopore to let everything in. Rather, we want to limit entry to specific genetic information in specific cells."

‪Professor Maglia and his team succeeded in engineering a nanopore that works like a revolving door for DNA molecules. "We have introduced a selective DNA revolving door atop of the nanopore. Specific DNA keys in solution hybridise to the DNA door and are transported across the nanopore. A second DNA key on the other side of the nanopore then releases the desired genetic information. A new cycle can then begin with another piece of DNA -- as long as it has the correct key. In this way, the nanopore acts simultaneously as a filter and a conveyor belt."

"In other words, we have engineered a selective transport system that can be used in the future to deliver medication into the cell. This could be of particular use in gene therapy, which involves introducing genetic material into degenerated cells in order to disable or re-programme them. It could also be used in targeted drug delivery, which involves administering medication directly into the cell. The possibilities are promising."

The researchers' findings were published in a recent edition of Nature Communications.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by KU Leuven. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Lorenzo Franceschini, Misha Soskine, Annemie Biesemans, Giovanni Maglia. A nanopore machine promotes the vectorial transport of DNA across membranes. Nature Communications, 2013; 4 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms3415

Cite This Page:

KU Leuven. "Nanopore opens new cellular doorway for drug transport." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 October 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131023090540.htm>.
KU Leuven. (2013, October 23). Nanopore opens new cellular doorway for drug transport. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131023090540.htm
KU Leuven. "Nanopore opens new cellular doorway for drug transport." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131023090540.htm (accessed December 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Monday, December 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) Polish scientists isolate bacteria from earthworm intestines which they say may be used in antibiotics and cancer treatments. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Existing Chemical Compounds Could Revive Failing Antibiotics, Says Danish Scientist

Existing Chemical Compounds Could Revive Failing Antibiotics, Says Danish Scientist

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) A team of scientists led by Danish chemist Jorn Christensen says they have isolated two chemical compounds within an existing antipsychotic medication that could be used to help a range of failing antibiotics work against killer bacterial infections, such as Tuberculosis. Jim Drury went to meet him. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 19, 2014) Millions of monarch butterflies begin to descend onto Mexico as part of their annual migration south. Rough Cut (no reporter narration) Video provided by Reuters
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


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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