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Plasmonic Nanobubbles for Intracellular Targeting and Gene Therapy

E. Lukianova-Hleb, J. Wen, L. Meteletsa, M. Brenner, J. Chang, D.O. Lapotko
Rice University, US

Keywords: plasmonic nanobubble, cell, gene transfection, controlled release, laser


Intracellular molecular targeting (IMT) and gene transfection of eukaryotic cells is widely used for research and for developing gene cell therapy. However, the existing IMT methods lack selectivity, efficacy and safety when heterogeneous cell systems must be treated. We report a new IMT method that employs plasmonic nanobubbles (PNBs) for delivery and guidance. A PNB is a novel, tunable cellular agent with a dual mechanical and optical action due to the formation of the vapor nanobubble around a transiently heated gold nanoparticle upon its exposure to a laser pulse. PNBs enabled the mechanical injection of the extracellular cDNA plasmid into the cytoplasm of individual target living cells, cultured leukemia cells and human CD34+CD117+ stem cells and expression of a green fluorescent protein (GFP) in those cells. PNB generation and lifetime correlated with the expression of green fluorescent protein in PNB-treated cells. Optical scattering by PNBs additionally provided the detection of the target cells and the guidance of cDNA injection at single cell level. In both cell models PNBs demonstrated a gene transfection effect in a single pulse treatment with high selectivity, efficacy and safety. Thus, PNBs provided targeted gene delivery at the single cell level in a single pulse procedure that can be used for safe and effective gene therapy.
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