RESEARCH: Scientists at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA have exploited thousands of tiny capsules in cells to store vast amounts of biomaterial. Dubbed vaults - for their high arches reminiscent of cathedral ceilings - these naturally occurring capsules may prove less likely to elicit an immune response than foreign carriers like viruses.
IMPACT: The UCLA discovery will enable many potential applications, including:
- Therapeutic delivery, such as homing cancer drugs directly to a tumor cell without harming healthy tissue
- Enzyme delivery to replace missing or defective enzymes, such as those that cause Tay Sachs disease
- DNA delivery to correct genetic mutations
- Timed release of drugs, enzymes and DNA
- Extracting and imprisoning cellular toxins into the vault
- Stabilizing proteins in vaults to increase their lifespans
AUTHORS: Leonard Rome, professor of biological chemistry and senior associate dean of research; Bruce Dunn, professor of material science and engineering; Jeffrey Zink, professor of chemistry and biochemistry and Valerie Kickhoefer, first author and associate research biochemist.
JOURNAL: The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
FUNDING: The National Science Foundation supported the research.
(NOTE: Full manuscript and color images of vaults available upon request.)