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Better RNA interference, inspired by nature

Better RNA interference, inspired by nature | healthcare technology | Scoop.it

Inspired by tiny particles that carry cholesterol through the body, MIT chemical engineers have designed nanoparticles that can deliver snippets of genetic material that turn off disease-causing genes.


This approach, known as RNA interference (RNAi), holds great promise for treating cancer and other diseases. However, delivering enough RNA to treat the diseased tissue, while avoiding side effects in the rest of the body, has proven difficult.


The new MIT particles, which encase short strands of RNA within a sphere of fatty molecules and proteins, silence target genes in the liver more efficiently than any previous delivery system, the researchers found in a study of mice.


"What we're excited about is how it only takes a very small amount of RNA to cause gene knockdown in the whole liver. The effect is specific to the liver - we get no effect in other tissues where you don't want it," says Daniel Anderson, the Samuel A. Goldblith Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering and a member of MIT's Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research.


more at http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/272481.php


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Nanoparticle Pills Usher Medicine Into the Future

Nanoparticle Pills Usher Medicine Into the Future | healthcare technology | Scoop.it

Although nanomedicine is a promising area of research, scientists have been unable to figure out a way to deliver drugs using nanoparticles other than by injection, which is both distasteful and inconvenient for patients. Now, a team of researchers from MIT and Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) have developed a new nanoparticle that can be absorbed through the digestive tract, allowing patients to take a pill instead of receiving injections.


"If you were a patient and you had a choice, there's just no question," Professor Robert Langer, of MIT's Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, stated in a press release. “Patients would always prefer drugs they can take orally.” 


Ultrafine particles, or nanoparticles, are between one and 100 nanometers in size. What makes nanoparticles so interesting to scientists, particularly in the field of medicine, is the fact that the physics underlying nanoparticles means that their properties are different from the properties of the bulk material. Additionally, size and surface characteristics of nanoparticles can be manipulated. Yet, nanoparticles have not yet been available as a pill because, despite their tiny size, they are unable to penetrate the intestinal lining. This is no simple feat as the lining is made of a layer of epithelial cells that join together forming impenetrable barriers known as tight junctions.

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