Better packaging for DNA

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Better packaging for DNA
Better packaging for DNA

Better packaging for DNA packets

Artificially modified viruses are said to help insert genetic material into certain body cells in order to treat hereditary diseases.

Luk Vandenberghe walks over to a shelf and grabs two fist-sized objects. One of these is an icosahedron, which looks like a particularly complicated magic cube with 20 faces instead of the usual six. The other object is a cream-colored hard plastic nub made by a 3D printer, its surface covered with bumps, indentations and a total of 20 triads of pyramid-like formations. Both objects represent models of an adeno-associated virus (AAV). These infectious particles can be used as gene carriers to smuggle genetic material into body cells.

Vandenberghe is a bioengineer and director of the Grousbeck Gene Therapy Center at Massachusetts Eye and Ear Hospital in Boston. He studies how the tiny structures on the surface of viruses shape their biological behavior and wants to specifically modify the particles to make them better gene carriers - but without too much of their icosahedron structure (or, by analogy, the color pattern of the magic cube). very change. Vandenberghe received his PhD in 2007 from the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium on the structure of AAV virus particles and was later appointed Associate Professor at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Using computer models and experimental DNA synthesis, he is trying to optimize the use of AAV in gene therapy …

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