Non-viral delivery of DNA has been and remains a busy road for discovery and innovation in the field of gene therapy. Some ten years ago DNA nanoparticles were developed as a possible alternative to viral vectors among other reasons.
DNA nanoparticles are comprised of single molecules of plasmid DNA compacted with polycations – for example, 10kDa polyethylene glycol-substituted lysine 30-mers. These nanoparticles have the minimum possible volume and their small size has advantages in terms of delivery and intracellular partitioning.
Copernicus Therapeutics Inc, in Cleveland, Ohio have been developing this technology with a particular interest in developing DNA-based therapies for cystic fibrosis.
Harmon et al (2014) describe some of their latest results using DNA nanoparticles in vertebrates. In this case, intranasal administration of DNA nanoparticles in rats resulted in expression of a reporter protein in the brain.
Intra-nasal administration of plasmid DNA nanoparticles yields successful transfection and expression of a reporter protein in rat brain.
There are myriad nanotechnologies being applied to DNA and drug delivery. DNA nanoparticles are just on very specific example.
DNA and RNA delivery remains a major problem for those wishing to genetically modify insects either transiently or permanently with germ-line modifications. Nano technologies are under intense scrutiny in medicine and it is worth thinking about their possible applications to insects. I am sure they are being considered and explored by some but wouldn’t it be nice if there were a more coordinated or at least concerted effort among insect biologists. The IGTRCN could serve to facilitate that process. Those with an interest should consider using the IGTRCN to leverage their interests and expertise against this rather substantial and important problem.