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German Researchers Join in Nanomedicine Project

by Editor1 last modified January 17, 2008 - 20:30

German medical researchers are looking at new possibilities for nanomedicine by blending the power of programmable biomolecules with nanocapsulation techniques. The research arises from an innovative partnership among Germany’s Capsulution Nanoscience, Qiagen (Germany’s subsidiary of the Dutch supplier of sample and testing technology and products), Berlin's Humboldt University and the faculty of biotechnology at Martin Luther University in Halle-Wittenberg.

German Researchers Join in Nanomedicine Project

German researchers will use oligonucleotides as probes to attract complementary nucleic acid as a way to conduct speedier and low-volume nanoscale testing for cancer and genetic diseases.

The joint private/university project looks to couple oligonucleotides to nanocapsules to create targeted drug-delivery vehicles or diagnostic kits, is supported with a €1.2m grant from the German Ministry of Science and Technology's nanobiotechnology sponsorship program.

Capsulution's proprietary LBL (layer-by-layer) technology will be used to fuse these elements into nanoscale encapsulation process.
For the process, polyelectrolyte molecules will be applied layer by layer to create an ultra-thin polymer film. Each layer of the coating will hold the opposite charge using electrostatics. As a result, researchers will construct nanoparticles consisting of a magnetic core and a functionalized shell. Then,, nucleotide fragments will be coupled to the modified surface to create “hooks,” researchers said.

Using LBL techniques, the capsule walls, (from 4-20 polyelectrolyte layers) will have a total thickness of 8-50 nm, and would provide an adaptable surface for antibodies to dock on to. The candidate for these “hooks” would be to use oligonucleotides as probes for complementary DNA or RNA. The oligonucleotides would attract complementary nucleic acid filaments into testing samples, (and the magnetic core would target the nanoparticles more precisely). Researchers want to speed diagnosis of cancer and genetic diseases by facilitating the discovery of genetic markers for viruses or diseases, without need for concentration, purification or amplification of the targeted biomolecule or gene.

As to treatment, researchers said the work could also speed use of oligonucleotides to achieve precise cell targeting of drug substances, and nanocapsules would serve as delivery vehicles.

While Capsulation’s LBL technology will remain proprietary to that company, all other intellectual property arising from the collaboration will be shared between the partners and the universities, researchers said.

Dr. Loanna Andreou, a senior scientist for research and development at Qiagen, is one of the project lead scientists.