Multifunctional gold nanoparticles for gene therapy

Lead Research Organisation: University of Glasgow
Department Name: School of Life Sciences


A major obstacle in the use of many chemicals for diagnosis or treatment is the lack of tissue specificity. A tag for molecular imaging or a drug-carrying system would have to circulate in the blood stream undetected by the immune system and would have to recognize the desirable target and gives a detectable signal or delivers the drug in it. This NANOTRUCK project intends to develop an innovative kind of multifunctional gold nanoparticles loaded with fluorescent and tumoral markers, cell penetrating peptides and RNAi complementary to the proto-oncogene myc. This biofunctionalization will allow the interaction between NPs and biological systems, ranging from in vitro cultured human cells to in vivo animal models (primitive Hydra and complex vertebrate mouse). This new nanoplatform will allow the targeting and detection of tumor cells and also the study of cellular response against gene tumoral therapy, converting it in a potent tool for the emerging area of theragnostics.
Description The grant was focused on trying to reduce cancer tumour growth by stopping, or knocking out, one of the main genes involved in tumour cell growth.
Exploitation Route The particles were shown to knock down a key cell proliferation gene in HeLa cancer cells, however they should be usable across all cell types. So, I can foresee these NPs being adapted for use in various other cancer growths. In addition, they type of chemistry used to make the NPs (ie. the strong thiol bonds used to attach the siena onto our NP surface) is perfectly adaptable to use for other thiolated fragments on RNA, so many other projects and end uses can be envisaged.
Sectors Education,Healthcare,Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology

Description This was an EU funded grant, through the EPSRC. Several groups including us were involved. The grant resulted in a very successful PhD studentship, which was completed and submitted on the 3 year mark. Since completion, 4 papers have been published associated with this grant - 2 original papers and 2 review articles. In terms of collaborations, two of the original partner groups in Spain and Portugal have remained in contact and we have since collaborated in several projects, including a recently finished BBSRC 2.5 year research grant. With regards to impact, several non-science publications were also noted regarding to the work, including for the NHS, Nano Weekly and Materials Today. Such publications demonstrate the interest for broader audience and also illustrate my interest in actively promoting knowledge exchange between different sectors. I was also selected to give online interviews for several online science schedules, including Magnetic Materials, Applied Physics and the Thought Leader series on News Medical.
First Year Of Impact 2011
Sector Healthcare,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology
Impact Types Societal