The January Issue of CSH Protocols features several articles detailing the use of nanoparticles for gene delivery. Drug delivery methods using nanoparticles have revolutionized the field. The traditional methods for drug delivery, via oral and intravenous routes, are inefficient, non-specific and expensive. Nanoparticles allow for much greater control over delivery, targeting to specific tissues, higher stability (which allows lower doses to be used) and they can be manufactured cheaply in large quantities. Nanoparticles made from natural polymers are preferred over synthetic ones because of their greater biocompatibility and biodegradibility.

These advances in therapeutic drug delivery techniques also bring benefits to researchers at the laboratory bench. Just as nanoparticles can be used for drug delivery, they can also be used for DNA delivery. Once inside the cell, the key to efficient transfection is getting the DNA through the nuclear membrane. Mansoor Amiji’s group at Northeastern University contribute a series of articles on the use of gelatin nanoparticles for gene delivery, including a general overview, preparation and loading of gelatin nanoparticles, studying intracellular trafficking using TEM and gold-encapsulated nanoparticles, and analysis of transfection using fluorescence microscopy and FACS. In the same issue, you’ll find a protocol for preparation and transfection using biodegradable nanoparticles made from biocompatible polymers such as poly(D,L-lactide-co-glycolide) (PLGA) or polylactide (PLA) from Vinod Labhasetwar’s group at the University of Nebraska.

You can also find several related articles in previous issues of CSH Protocols, including Lipoplex and LPD Nanoparticles for In Vivo Gene Delivery, Bioresponsive Targeted Charge Neutral Lipid Vesicles for Systemic Gene Delivery and An Overview of Condensing and Noncondensing Polymeric Systems for Gene Delivery.