Bioengineering Gene Expression

A recent article at Sciencedaily called Bioengineers Devise ‘Dimmer Swith’ To Regulate Gene Expression In Mammal Cells discusses new technology being developed that combined a targeted DNA repressor protein, and a custom-designed RNAi strand. The repressor is thought to prevent most transcription, but in the event not all genes are repressed, the RNAi is thought to hunt out those transcripts, and destroy them.

Another chemical called Isopropyl-รข-thiogalactopyranoside acts as a “dimmer” that can block the repressor protein. Thus by altering the amount of this chemical, repressor and RNAi, they can regulate a gene’s expression. Cool.

Bacterial Cancer Therapeutics? Maybe.

A company called EnGeneIC in Sydney, Australia have created a targeted drug delivery platform based on “mini bacteria”, or as they call it, EnGeneIC Delivery Vehicles (EDVs). These vehicles look and behave like bacteria, including cell division — albeit, without chromosomes. I may need to dig a little deeper into the science of this one!

In any case, these EDVs have been shown to target tumorigenic tissue, being fed by blood vessels; 30% of an IV dosage reached the cancerous region within 2 hours. It has so far been proven safe in dogs with advanced non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, as well as in pigs and monkeys.

The study also suggests that these EDVs can carry RNAi or siRNA-based products to their destination, as delivery of these nucleic acids has been proven difficult due to nuclease/enzymatic degredation before reaching its target.

Adapted from [NewScientist] from [Cancer Cell (vol 11, p431) “Bacterially Derived 400 nm Particles for Encapsulation and Cancer Cell Targeting of Chemotherapeutics”]

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At a Glance: RNAi Companies

I have stumbled upon a new blog, authored by Dirk Haussecker, a Stanford post-doc in RNAi-releated research. He put together a nice view of the companies operating within the RNAi space. Check it out.

Of all the companies, he highlighted Alnylam Pharmaceuticals for having a healthy IP portfolio surrounding their work in RNAi and microRNAs in humans. Keep on the lookout.