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Nanoparticle tracking analysis used to study DNA in drug delivery processes

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The Department of Biomedical Engineering, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine is using nanoparticle tracking analysis, a method of visualising and analysing particles in liquids, to study self-assembled polymer/DNA particles for drug delivery.

The main research interests of Dr Jordan Green of the Biomaterials and Drug Delivery Laboratory are in cellular engineering and nanobiotechnology. Knowledge of particle size is of particular value in the characterisation of different drug delivery systems. Having had previous experience using dynamic light scattering (DLS) techniques, Dr Green and his team now also use the complementary technique of nanoparticle tracking analysis (NTA) using the NanoSight LM10-HS system. NTA provides insight into their samples particularly those with polydisperse behaviour.

Dr Green said: 'To our knowledge, this is the first time that NTA has been used for self-assembled polymer/DNA particles. Our results highlight its utility, especially when combined with traditional DLS analysis.'

The laboratory chose the NanoSight LM10-HS system equipped with an EMCCD high sensitivity camera and a 404nm laser for particle sizing analysis. NTA allows fine distinction between peaks in samples that were polydisperse. The uniformity of polymeric nanoparticle distribution is thought to be a property of the polymer structure, and in particular, of the polymer terminal group. Changes to polymer terminal group were also found to dramatically change gene delivery efficacy of these nanoparticles in 2D and 3D cell systems.

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