Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors



Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


android tablet pc

Home > Press > Novel nanotechnology collaboration leads to breakthrough in cancer research

Structure of an adenovirus
Structure of an adenovirus

Abstract:
Researchers clear hurdle on path toward gene-therapy treatment for disease

By Mike Rodewald

Novel nanotechnology collaboration leads to breakthrough in cancer research

Los Angeles, CA | Posted on September 1st, 2010

One of the most difficult aspects of working at the nanoscale is actually seeing the object being worked on. Biological structures like viruses, which are smaller than the wavelength of light, are invisible to standard optical microscopes and difficult to capture in their native form with other imaging techniques.

A multidisciplinary research group at UCLA has now teamed up to not only visualize a virus but to use the results to adapt the virus so that it can deliver medication instead of disease.

In a paper published last week in the journal Science, Hongrong Liu, a UCLA postdoctoral researcher in microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics, and colleagues reveal an atomically accurate structure of the adenovirus that shows the interactions among its protein networks. The work provides critical structural information for researchers around the world attempting to modify the adenovirus for use in vaccine and gene-therapy treatments for cancer.

To modify a virus for gene therapy, researchers remove its disease-causing DNA, replace it with medications and use the virus shell, which has been optimized by millions of years of evolution, as a delivery vehicle.

Lily Wu, a UCLA professor of molecular and medical pharmacology and co-lead author of the study, and her group have been attempting to manipulate the adenovirus for use in gene therapy, but the lack of information about receptors on the virus's surface had hampered their quest.

"We are engineering viruses to deliver gene therapy for prostate and breast cancers, but previous microscopy techniques were unable to visualize the adapted viruses," Wu said. "This was like trying to a piece together the components of a car in the dark, where the only way to see if you did it correctly was to try and turn the car on."

To better visualize the virus, Wu sought assistance from Hong Zhou, a UCLA professor of microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics and the study's other lead author. Zhou uses cryo-electron microscopy (cryoEM) to produce atomically accurate three-dimensional models of biological samples such as viruses.

Wu, who is also a researcher at the California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI) at UCLA, learned of Zhou's work after he was jointly recruited to UCLA from the University of Texas Medical School at Houston by the UCLA Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics and UCLA's CNSI.

About a year ago, once the transfer of Zhou's lab was complete, Sok Boon Koh, one of Wu's students, sought out Zhou's group for their expertise and initiated the collaboration.

"This project exemplifies my excitement about being part of an institute as innovative as CNSI," Zhou said. "Not only am I able to work with state-of-the-art equipment, but because CNSI is the hub for nanotechnology research and commercialization at UCLA, I have the opportunity to collaborate with colleagues across many disciplines."

Working in the Electron Imaging Center for Nanomachines at the CNSI, a lab run by Zhou, the researchers used cryoEM to create a 3-D reconstruction of the human adenovirus from 31,815 individual particle images.

"Because the reconstruction reveals details up to a resolution of 3.6 angstroms, we are able to build an atomic model of the entire virus, showing precisely how the viral proteins all fit together and interact," Zhou said. An angstrom is the distance between the two hydrogen atoms in a water molecule, and the entire adenovirus is about 920 angstroms in diameter.

Armed with this new understanding, Wu and her group are now moving forward with their engineered versions of adenovirus to use for gene therapy treatment of cancer.

"This breakthrough is a great leap forward, but there are still many obstacles to overcome," Wu said. "If our work is successful, this therapy could be used to treat most forms of cancer, but our initial efforts have focused on prostate and breast cancers because those are the two most common forms of cancer in men and women, respectively."

The group is working with the adenovirus because previous research has established it as a good candidate for gene therapy due to its efficiency in delivering genetic materials inside the body. The virus shell is also a safe delivery vehicle; tests have shown that the shell does not cause cancer, a problem encountered with some other virus shells. The adenovirus is relatively non-pathogenic naturally, causing only temporary respiratory illness in 5 to 10 percent of people.

CryoEM enables such a high-resolution reconstruction of biological structures because samples, in water, are imaged directly. In contrast, with X-ray crystallography (the conventional technique for atomic resolution models of biological structures), researchers grow crystal structures replicating the sample and then use diffraction to solve the crystal structure. This technique is limited because it is difficult to grow crystals for all proteins, samples for x-ray crystallography need to be very pure and uniform, and crystals of large complexes may not diffract to high resolution. These limitations resulted in critical areas of the adenovirus surface being unresolved using x-ray crystallography.

The study was funded by the National Cancer Institute and the U.S. Department of Defense.

####

About California NanoSystems Institute at UCLA
California NanoSystems Institute at UCLA is an integrated research center operating jointly at UCLA and UC Santa Barbara whose mission is to foster interdisciplinary collaborations for discoveries in nanosystems and nanotechnology; train the next generation of scientists, educators and technology leaders; and facilitate partnerships with industry, fueling economic development and the social well-being of California, the United States and the world. The CNSI was established in 2000 with $100 million from the state of California and an additional $250 million in federal research grants and industry funding. At the institute, scientists in the areas of biology, chemistry, biochemistry, physics, mathematics, computational science and engineering are measuring, modifying and manipulating the building blocks of our world — atoms and molecules. These scientists benefit from an integrated laboratory culture enabling them to conduct dynamic research at the nanoscale, leading to significant breakthroughs in the areas of health, energy, the environment and information technology.

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Media Contacts
Jennifer Marcus,
310-267-4839


Mike Rodewald,
310-267-5883

Copyright © California NanoSystems Institute at UCLA

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

Researchers engineer improvements of technology used in digital memory November 24th, 2014

Research reveals how our bodies keep unwelcome visitors out of cell nuclei November 24th, 2014

An Inside Job: UC-Designed Nanoparticles Infiltrate, Kill Cancer Cells From Within November 24th, 2014

Cooling with the coldest matter in the world November 24th, 2014

Possible Futures

A novel method for identifying the body’s ‘noisiest’ networks November 19th, 2014

Researchers discern the shapes of high-order Brownian motions November 17th, 2014

VDMA Electronics Production Equipment: Growth track for 2014 and 2015 confirmed: Business climate survey shows robust industry sector November 14th, 2014

Open Materials Development Will Be Key for HP's Success in 3D Printing: HP can make a big splash in 3D printing, but it needs to shore up technology claims and avoid the temptation of the razor/razor blade business model in order to flourish November 11th, 2014

Academic/Education

SUNY Poly Student Awarded Fellowship with the U.S. Department of Energy's Postgraduate Research Program: Ph.D. Candidate Accepts Postmaster's Appointment To Conduct Research At Albany NanoTech Complex November 13th, 2014

SUNY Polytechnic Institute Hosts Massive Crowd of More Than 3,000 People Who Attended Community Day Activities Across New York State: CNSE’s ‘NANOvember’ kickoff event highlights New York State’s growing high-tech sector with open house events in Albany, Utica, and Rochester November 3rd, 2014

SUNY Polytechnic Institute Invites the Public to Attend its Popular Statewide 'NANOvember' Series of Outreach and Educational Events October 23rd, 2014

First Canada Excellence Research Chair gets $10 million from the federal government for oilsands research at the University of Calgary: Federal government announces prestigious research chair to study improving oil production efficiency October 19th, 2014

Nanomedicine

Research reveals how our bodies keep unwelcome visitors out of cell nuclei November 24th, 2014

ASU, IBM move ultrafast, low-cost DNA sequencing technology a step closer to reality November 24th, 2014

An Inside Job: UC-Designed Nanoparticles Infiltrate, Kill Cancer Cells From Within November 24th, 2014

Iran Exports Nanodrugs to Syria November 24th, 2014

Announcements

Research reveals how our bodies keep unwelcome visitors out of cell nuclei November 24th, 2014

ASU, IBM move ultrafast, low-cost DNA sequencing technology a step closer to reality November 24th, 2014

An Inside Job: UC-Designed Nanoparticles Infiltrate, Kill Cancer Cells From Within November 24th, 2014

Cooling with the coldest matter in the world November 24th, 2014

Nanobiotechnology

Quantum mechanical calculations reveal the hidden states of enzyme active sites November 20th, 2014

Tokyo Institute of Technology research: Protein-engineered cages aid studies of cell functions November 19th, 2014

A novel method for identifying the body’s ‘noisiest’ networks November 19th, 2014

Implementation of DNA Chains in Designing Nanospin Pieces November 9th, 2014

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE




  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More












ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project







© Copyright 1999-2014 7th Wave, Inc. All Rights Reserved PRIVACY POLICY :: CONTACT US :: STATS :: SITE MAP :: ADVERTISE