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.

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 July 28, 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 July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

AP (July 28, 2014) Classes are being offered nationwide to encourage African Americans to learn about cooking fresh foods based on traditional African cuisine. The program is trying to combat obesity, heart disease and other ailments often linked to diet. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

AP (July 27, 2014) A live-streaming webcam catches loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings emerging from a nest in the Florida Keys. (July 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Newsy (July 27, 2014) The satellite is back under ground control after a tense few days, but with a gecko sex experiment on board, the media just couldn't help themselves. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A national study conducted by the USDA Forest Service found that trees collectively save more than 850 lives on an annual basis. Video provided by Newsy
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:
from the past week

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