About five years ago, Professor Janet Sawicki at the Lankenau Institute in Pennsylvania read an article about nanoparticles developed by MIT’s Daniel Anderson and Robert Langer for gene therapy, the insertion of genes into living cells for the treatment of disease. Sawicki was working on treating ovarian cancer by delivering — through viruses — the gene for the diphtheria toxin, which kills tumor cells (…)
The ovarian cancer treatment developed at MIT and the Lankenau Institute has been successful in animal studies but is not yet ready for clinical trials. Such trials could get under way in a year or two, says Anderson, where their performance would be studied for several years. Meanwhile, the MIT researchers are exploring other uses for their nanoparticles. Last month, they reported using the particles to boost stem cells’ ability to regenerate vascular tissue (such as blood vessels) by equipping them with genes that produce extra growth factors.
“We’ve had success with gene delivery using these nanoparticles, so we thought they might be a safer, temporary way to modify stem cells,” says Anderson.