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Gene Ther. 2000 Dec;7(23):2023-7.

Microbubble-enhanced ultrasound for vascular gene delivery.

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Cardiovascular Research Group, Division of Clinical Sciences, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK.


Progress in cardiovascular gene therapy has been hampered by concerns over the safety and practicality of viral vectors and the inefficiency of current nonviral transfection techniques. We have previously reported that ultrasound exposure (USE) enhances transgene expression in vascular cells by up to 10-fold after naked DNA transfection, and enhances lipofection by up to three-fold. We report here that performing USE in the presence of microbubble echocontrast agents enhances acoustic cavitation and is associated with approximately 300-fold increments in transgene expression after naked DNA transfections. This approach also enhances by four-fold the efficiency of polyplex transfection, yielding transgene expression levels approximately 3000-fold higher than after naked DNA alone. These data indicate an important role for acoustic cavitation in the effects of USE. Ultrasound can be focused upon almost any organ and hence this approach holds promise as a means to deliver targeted gene therapy in cardiovascular conditions such as such angioplasty restenosis and in many other clinical situations.

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