Researchers at Brigham & Women’s Hospital have developed electrically activated gold nanoparticles that can bore holes into cells’ outer membranes and allow DNA, RNA and proteins to pass through carrying their cargo. The team’s work was published in Advanced Functional Materials.
The team tested its technique using a DNA vaccine against hepatitis C in a mice model. Over the course of 3 months, the researchers did not observe any signs of toxicity. The newly developed delivery method induced high levels of anti-hepatitis C virus antibodies and immune cells that secreted inflammatory hormones.
“Our concept is unique,” first author Mohamed Shehata Draz said in prepared remarks. “Both the electric field parameters and the nanoparticle properties can be augmented to perform other important functions, such as precisely removing cells or blood clots.”
DNA vaccines, which have also shown promise as a method for slowing cancer growth, are a potential alternative to conventional vaccines. DNA vaccines are not constructed with weakened microbes, like standard vaccines.
“One of the really exciting aspects of this new method is that it enables drug delivery into tissues or cells in a universal way,” lead researcher Hadi Shafiee explained. “We are eager to explore its use for other important biological molecules, including RNA.”