The research appears this month in the
AAVs are found in nature and commonly infect humans but cause no disease. That makes them good candidates to serve as carriers that target cells and deliver genes to treat diseases.
The team, which included graduate student and lead author
Gene therapy shows promise in the treatment of not only genetic disorders but also cancer and cardiovascular diseases, said Suh, an assistant professor of bioengineering at
"But you need a mechanism to get the correct gene into the human body and to the target cells," she said. "To do that, people use gene vectors, and viruses encompass the largest category of vectors. They've naturally evolved to deliver genes into the body. Our goal is to reprogram them to target specific organs or tissues.
"The big challenge is to go about this in a rational manner," she said. "People have done a lot of work to solve the structure of viruses. We know what they look like. The question is: How can we use that information to guide the design of our viral vectors?"
The team's answer starts with the "SCHEMA" algorithm they adapted to predict how parts of very large viruses can recombine by homing in on the viral protein sequences that work well together.
Silberg, an associate professor of biochemistry and cell biology, said approaches to virus design can lean either toward brute force - "Let's make 1,000 of them and maybe we'll get lucky" - or purely computational, where a biophysicist will try to predict the role of small changes to the virus capsid.
Keywords for this news article include: Therapy, Viruses, Virology, Bioengineering,
Our reports deliver fact-based news of research and discoveries from around the world. Copyright 2013, NewsRx LLC
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