Genetic Medicine: DNA/RNA-delivery Vehicles and Gene-sensors
The focus of our research efforts is the design, synthesis and characterization of molecular materials designed with gene-delivery functions for applications in gene vaccines and genetic antivirals. One of the biggest challenges in this area is the efficient delivery of genetic material into the nuclei of appropriate cells. This process implies the encapsulation and cell-selective delivery of large segments of DNA. New materials with these abilities will have applications in the fight against viral diseases or infections of great concern. Our research focuses on three fronts:
Development of Effective Molecular Vehicles of DNA or RNA strands
Novel Approaches to Localized Gene-Therapeutics
Supramolecular Gene-sensors for Real-time Diagnostics of Infection
To characterize the molecular and supramolecular structures, we carry out High-Energy X-ray experiments such as Extended X-ray Absorbace Fine Structure spectroscopy (EXAFS) at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory (SSRL), X-ray crystallography, Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM), Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM), Dynamic Light Scattering (DLS) and High Resolution Mass Spectrometry (HRMS). Currently, we have developed a new material that efficiently delivers large DNA fragments containing genetic information into the nucleous of mammalian cells. Since this new material may also have adjuvant properties, we working with faculty from the Public Health Department at UTEP to carry out in-vivo experiments with mice to assess this property.
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