Most medical professionals have come to accept gene therapy as a medical technique that will eventually provide more efficient care to patients, without the side effects of traditional treatments. This is why new research from the Scripps Research Institute is being hailed as being helpful to those interested in personalized medicine.
Zinc finger nuclease (ZFN) proteins are considered by researchers to be extremely valuable because they can be used in genetic therapy techniques. They work to disassemble DNA strands in a way that is beneficial to the patient, even replicating themselves in order to attack harmful genes.
The problem with this technique is that the vehicle used to deliver ZFN to the cell is often a virus. While the virus is essentially harmless by itself, scientists have found that it could accidentally integrate itself into newly produced cells. Researchers found that they could not predict when this foreign material would enter cells, so there was an unwanted element of risk involved.
For this reason, Scripps researchers tried to find new ways to deliver ZFNs to patients without having to rely on potentially damaging gene therapy techniques. Instead of using a virus as a delivery system, the researchers decided to enhance the protein levels of ZFNs or not use any vessel to deliver ZFNs.
"We showed that we can modify the genomes of cells without the troubles that have long been linked to traditional gene therapy techniques," study author Carlos F. Barbas III told Science Daily. "The viral delivery approach involves a lot of off-target damage. We tried working with unmodified ZFNs, and lo and behold, they were easy to produce and entered cells quite efficiently."
With techniques such as this still in need of further refinement, researchers still have room for progress, which means diagnostic laboratories need to stay in tune with any future developments.
This article is brought to you by Slone Partners, a leading laboratory recruitment firm in the emerging sciences of molecular, clinical, and in-vitro diagnostics, anatomic pathology and personalized medicine.
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