Superparamagnetic Nanoparticle Delivery of Drugs and Vaccines

We provide these studies without comment at this time on their applicability to current phenomenon being reported following receipt of certain medical interventions.

ABSTRACT: Low efficiency is often observed in the delivery of DNA vaccines. The use of superparamagnetic nanoparticles (SPIONs) to deliver genes via magnetofection could improve transfection efficiency and target the vector to its desired locality. Here, magnetofection was used to enhance the delivery of a malaria DNA vaccine encoding Plasmodium yoelii merozoite surface protein MSP1(19) (VR1020-PyMSP1(19)) that plays a critical role in Plasmodium immunity. The plasmid DNA (pDNA) containing membrane associated 19-kDa carboxyl-terminal fragment of merozoite surface protein 1 (PyMSP1(19)) was conjugated with superparamagnetic nanoparticles coated with polyethyleneimine (PEI) polymer, with different molar ratio of PEI nitrogen to DNA phosphate. We reported the effects of SPIONs-PEI complexation pH values on the properties of the resulting particles, including their ability to condense DNA and the gene expression in vitro. By initially lowering the pH value of SPIONs-PEI complexes to 2.0, the size of the complexes decreased since PEI contained a large number of amino groups that became increasingly protonated under acidic condition, with the electrostatic repulsion inducing less aggregation. Further reaggregation was prevented when the pHs of the complexes were increased to 4.0 and 7.0, respectively, before DNA addition. SPIONs/PEI complexes at pH 4.0 showed better binding capability with PyMSP1(19) gene-containing pDNA than those at neutral pH, despite the negligible differences in the size and surface charge of the complexes. This study indicated that the ability to protect DNA molecules due to the structure of the polymer at acidic pH could help improve the transfection efficiency. The transfection efficiency of magnetic nanoparticle as carrier for malaria DNA vaccine in vitro into eukaryotic cells, as indicated via PyMSP1(19) expression, was significantly enhanced under the application of external magnetic field, while the cytotoxicity was comparable to the benchmark nonviral reagent (Lipofectamine 2000).

Guardian News and Media. (2016, March 24). Genetically engineered ‘Magneto’ protein remotely controls brain and behaviour. The Guardian. 

Güler and his colleagues reasoned that magnetic torque (or rotating) forces might activate TRPV4 by tugging open its central pore, and so they used genetic engineering to fuse the protein to the paramagnetic region of ferritin, together with short DNA sequences that signal cells to transport proteins to the nerve cell membrane and insert them into it. . . .

Next, the researchers inserted the Magneto DNA sequence into the genome of a virus, together with the gene encoding green fluorescent protein, and regulatory DNA sequences that cause the construct to be expressed only in specified types of neurons. They then injected the virus into the brains of mice, targeting the entorhinal cortex, and dissected the animals’ brains to identify the cells that emitted green fluorescence. Using microelectrodes, they then showed that applying a magnetic field to the brain slices activated Magneto so that the cells produce nervous impulses.

To determine whether Magneto can be used to manipulate neuronal activity in live animals, they injected Magneto into zebrafish larvae, targeting neurons in the trunk and tail that normally control an escape response. They then placed the zebrafish larvae into a specially-built magnetised aquarium, and found that exposure to a magnetic field induced coiling manouvres similar to those that occur during the escape response. (This experiment involved a total of nine zebrafish larvae, and subsequent analyses revealed that each larva contained about 5 neurons expressing Magneto.)

In one final experiment, the researchers injected Magneto into the striatum of freely behaving mice, a deep brain structure containing dopamine-producing neurons that are involved in reward and motivation, and then placed the animals into an apparatus split into magnetised a non-magnetised sections. Mice expressing Magneto spent far more time in the magnetised areas than mice that did not, because activation of the protein caused the striatal neurons expressing it to release dopamine, so that the mice found being in those areas rewarding. This shows that Magneto can remotely control the firing of neurons deep within the brain, and also control complex behaviours.

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