Gene therapy – where cells are specifically targeted with DNA to repair or destroy them – is an exciting area of research that could revolutionise medicine. But progress has been slow so far. One of the biggest challenges is finding ways of smuggling the genetic payload into the right cells and dispensing it on cue. One new approach is to use tiny microbubbles made of long molecules called polymers (pictured), which can be loaded up with DNA and injected into the body. A short, targeted blast of ultrasound bursts the bubbles in the right place, delivering their DNA cargo. Unfortunately, microbubbles don't easily take up DNA, meaning they aren't as effective as they could be. Now researchers have developed a new type of microbubble that can take up more DNA than ever before, raising hopes that this technique could be developed for treating patients one day.
Written by Kat Arney
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.