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Breakthrough in Genetic Medicine: Scientists Develop New Artificial Viral Vectors for Targeted Gene Delivery

Gene delivery in the human body using viral particles

Scientists have made an exciting discovery in a recent study published in the journal Nature Communications. They have found a new way to create artificial viral vectors (AVVs) using the structure of a virus called bacteriophage T4. But what exactly are viral vectors?

Viral vectors are modified viruses that can carry genetic material like DNA and RNA. They are used in medicine to deliver these genetic materials to treat diseases. However, current viral vectors have some limitations. They can only deliver a limited amount of genetic material, and it’s challenging to include other necessary molecules for complex treatments.

Bacteriophage T4 is a type of virus that is highly efficient and can replicate very quickly. Scientists realized that T4 would be a great starting point for creating AVVs.

To make the AVVs, scientists assembled different parts of the T4 virus in a specific order. They created a motor on the outside of an empty virus shell, and this motor helped move the genetic material into the shell. They also attached other molecules to the shell to make it more effective at delivering the genetic material.

To make the AVVs even better at delivering genetic material, scientists coated them with lipid molecules. These molecules help the AVVs interact with cells and deliver the genetic material more effectively.

Tests showed that these lipid-coated T4-AVVs were very good at delivering genetic material to human cells. They were much more effective than other commonly used viral vectors. The T4-AVVs could carry larger pieces of genetic material, which is great for delivering genes that are too big for other viral vectors.

Scientists also created AVVs specifically for genome editing. They combined different editing molecules into a single AVV to make it easier to edit the DNA in cells. These AVVs successfully edited specific parts of the human genome.

This study introduces a new method of creating AVVs using the structure of the T4 virus. These AVVs have shown promise in delivering genetic material for therapeutic purposes. However, more research is needed to fully understand how they work and ensure their safety and effectiveness.

Journal reference:
Zhu, J., Batra, H., Ananthaswamy, N., et al. (2023). Design of bacteriophage T4-based artificial viral vectors for human genome remodeling. Nature Communications 14(1); 1-19. doi:10.1038/s41467-023-38364-1

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