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Nat Mater. 2003 Oct;2(10):668-71. Epub 2003 Sep 14.

Multifunctional nanorods for gene delivery.

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  • 1Department of Biomedical Engineering, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland 21205, USA.


The goal of gene therapy is to introduce foreign genes into somatic cells to supplement defective genes or provide additional biological functions, and can be achieved using either viral or synthetic non-viral delivery systems. Compared with viral vectors, synthetic gene-delivery systems, such as liposomes and polymers, offer several advantages including ease of production and reduced risk of cytotoxicity and immunogenicity, but their use has been limited by the relatively low transfection efficiency. This problem mainly stems from the difficulty in controlling their properties at the nanoscale. Synthetic inorganic gene carriers have received limited attention in the gene-therapy community, the only notable example being gold nanoparticles with surface-immobilized DNA applied to intradermal genetic immunization by particle bombardment. Here we present a non-viral gene-delivery system based on multisegment bimetallic nanorods that can simultaneously bind compacted DNA plasmids and targeting ligands in a spatially defined manner. This approach allows precise control of composition, size and multifunctionality of the gene-delivery system. Transfection experiments performed in vitro and in vivo provide promising results that suggest potential in genetic vaccination applications.

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