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Nanotechnology and Gene Therapy for Retinopathies
Dr. Lutty's Lab is also using nanotechnology to develop unique approaches to treating the retinopathies mentioned in this section. Many labs are using viruses to deliver genes that can be used to treat diseases. Viruses, however, can themselves cause problems in that they may initiate inflammation and the genes may be expressed at too high a level or for too long. Our goal is delivery of therapeutic genes without a virus, using nanoparticles to deliver the genes. The particles can be made with multiple layers so the outer layer will have a peptide that can target the particles to cells of interest. A schematic of an iron nanoparticle with multiple layers is seen in Picture 10. These nanoparticles can be delivered to cells in the retina (Picture 11).
Once the particles get into the target cell, the genes are expressed for a limited time period. Using the genes for naturally occurring antiangiogenic factors, we hope to treat neovascularization without using a virus or a drug. The nanoparticles can also carry a biosensor DNA that will allow the gene to be expressed only when it is needed.