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Nanoparticles Heated By Radio Waves Switch On Genes In Mice

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the flipping-a-switch dept.

Science 42

ananyo writes "Researchers have used radio waves to remotely activate engineered insulin-producing genes in mice. In the long term, the work could lead to medical procedures in which patients' genes are triggered on demand. The researchers coated iron oxide nanoparticles with antibodies that bind to a modified version of a temperature-sensitive ion channel. They injected these particles into tumors grown under the skins of mice, then heated the nanoparticles with low-frequency radio waves. The nanoparticles heated the ion channel, activating it and allowing calcium to flow into cells. The influx of calcium switched on an engineered calcium-sensitive gene that produces insulin (abstract)."

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Great except.... (1, Funny)

who_stole_my_kidneys (1956012) | more than 2 years ago | (#39893017)

you over dose on Insulin when you stand next to an old short wave radio.

Re:Great except.... (1)

thesaintar (865954) | more than 2 years ago | (#39893707)

So they basically microwaved (or induction-heated, or whatever) the genes into working. What will happen when a patient undergoing that treatment gets thrown into an MRI machine? will the nanoparticles turn into popcorn?

Re:Great except.... (1)

Shavano (2541114) | more than 2 years ago | (#39898863)

Only after they inject you with the nanoparticles that bind to the insulin producing genes in your bioengineered tumors.

I'd rather a pill I choose to swallow (1, Interesting)

dittbub (2425592) | more than 2 years ago | (#39893095)

This sounds like something the government could use to control us!

Re:I'd rather a pill I choose to swallow (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39893143)

and this sounds like something a retard would say...

Re:I'd rather a pill I choose to swallow (2)

michelcolman (1208008) | more than 2 years ago | (#39893219)

First they came for the retards, but I did not speak out because I thought I was not a retard...

Re:I'd rather a pill I choose to swallow (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39893231)

New retard comments are left by the one who believe in Global Warming kids.

Re:I'd rather a pill I choose to swallow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39894675)

right the earths oxygen supply has zero problems (lolololol)

Re:I'd rather a pill I choose to swallow (1)

who_stole_my_kidneys (1956012) | more than 2 years ago | (#39893243)

well no one likes a "spitter"

Re:I'd rather a pill I choose to swallow (2)

MrQuacker (1938262) | more than 2 years ago | (#39895673)

I'll ignore the more mundane uses, and the sinister corporate scenarios*. For now just imagine the prison scenario. You don't need to build expensive walls or fences anymore, just a centrally placed and secure RF transmitter. Walk too far away from it, and the specially implanted genes for [bodily function] are turned on or off. Either killing you, or disabling you so you can be dragged back to your cell.

*Turn on the genius genes from 9-5, turn on the retard genes from 5-9. Smart workers that will do what you want and never leave.

Re:I'd rather a pill I choose to swallow (1)

dittbub (2425592) | more than 2 years ago | (#39896191)

if we could make gene-prisons then certainly we could just turn off their criminal genes and turn on their good samaritan gene and send them on their way

Re:I'd rather a pill I choose to swallow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39897727)

Possibly, but its a lot easier to inject a mass-produced carrier in their arm, and say "Now you're infected with the prison-gene; cross that line over there and you'll die".

After the first wave of attempts and deaths, you don't even have to use real shots every time, a placebo shot will be enough to control the population.

Re:I'd rather a pill I choose to swallow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39898569)

you clearly don't have a clue how this works, it has to be injected into tumors.
so you first have to infect all these people and grow a tumor, you're all a bunch of idiots.

Good (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 2 years ago | (#39893165)

Hurry it up peeeeeeze!!!

cannot wait (1)

hackula (2596247) | more than 2 years ago | (#39893183)

I have had diabetes for 10 years now. Sign me up.

Re:cannot wait (2)

michelcolman (1208008) | more than 2 years ago | (#39893253)

Wouldn't this be a bit easy to hack? Just blast a diabetes patient with radio waves, instant insulin overdose, nobody will know what happened. Perfect murder.

Re:cannot wait (1)

The Altruist (1448701) | more than 2 years ago | (#39894033)

Wouldn't this be a bit easy to hack? Just blast a diabetes patient with radio waves, instant insulin overdose, nobody will know what happened. Perfect murder.

Mod this guy up. I was thinking the same thing when I first read this.

Re:cannot wait (0)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#39897239)

Or mod both of you down for not understanding wth you are talking about.

Re:cannot wait (1)

hackula (2596247) | more than 2 years ago | (#39917333)

It turns on cells that produce insulin when there is excess sugar in the blood stream. That would cure a diabetic, not murder them. Regardless, the technology already exists to give someone an insulin overdose (insulin and a syringe; probably easier to administer than a cutting edge radio-genetic-modifier-machine).

Re:cannot wait (1)

hackula (2596247) | more than 2 years ago | (#39917279)

This would be true except that the antidote to insulin overdose is a glass of apple juice (or anything with simple sugars), which your body will instinctively crave in that situation. Diabetics frequently have low blood sugars on a regular basis, so they can tell when they are having one with astounding accuracy. Trust me, if you were having a low blood sugar that was heading towards being fatal, you would find something sweet and you would eat it. It is the closest thing to an animal instinct that I have ever felt.

Re:cannot wait (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39893287)

They injected these particles into tumors grown under the skins of mice

I may be biased since I do not currently have diabetes as far as I know, but I'll avoid a treatment which involves growing tumors as one of the initial steps.

Re:cannot wait (1)

Shavano (2541114) | more than 2 years ago | (#39898893)

Are you sure about that. Right now, your treatment regime is simple. You take a drug every day.

The new treatment regime would be
* have bioengineered tumors grown under your skin. (First, sign the waiver that says you won't sue if they give you cancer.)
* take periodic injections of nanoparticles that bind to the insulin producing genes (sign the waiver that says you agree it's OK if the nanoparticles cause you to die or go into a coma)
* have yourself irradiated every day to make sure the tumors make enough insulin (sign the waiver that says it's OK if it causes you to have too much or too little insulin)
* monitor your blood sugar to make sure the tumors aren't producing too much or too little insulin.
* avoid radiation sources that could trigger your tumors to make insulin unexpectedly

Contrast this with a simpler solution:
- have an electronically controlled insulin pump installed in your body
- have your insulin replenished periodically.

A more elegant bioengineered solution would be good though. What you want is bioengineered tumors in your pancreas that regulate your insulin level without resorting to crutches like nanoparticles and a microwave oven to activate them. You had those once, but they weren't bioengineered. You need replacements.

tumours grown under the skin? (4, Informative)

slew (2918) | more than 2 years ago | (#39893259)

As they seem to be deliberatly growing tumours in the subject (albeit calcium sensitive insulin producing tumors), I can't imagine this technique will be used in people for quite a while (as the abstract states, "because it is not ethical to grow tumours in humans").

Also, sounds like nanoparticles don't technically switch on the genes in their experiment, calcium ions did. This rube-goldberg technique used localized heat generated by stimulating the nanoparticles in a tumor inserted in a mouse with radio waves to open up an ion channel that allowed calcium ion already in the body to trigger the gene in the tumor. However, temperature sensitive ion channels aren't the only way to do this, there are also voltage sensistive calcium ion channels too (which is how I remember insulin production is normally triggered in the pancreas). If you have to stick something in your body anyhow (like a tumour), perhaps just using voltage control rather than heat control is probably gonna be just as good.

Re:tumours grown under the skin? (1)

InvisibleClergy (1430277) | more than 2 years ago | (#39893317)

I think the idea might be to create something which can be inherited, rather than something that has to be implanted.

Re:tumours grown under the skin? (1)

slew (2918) | more than 2 years ago | (#39893385)

I think the idea might be to create something which can be inherited, rather than something that has to be implanted.

If you are willing to modify the genetics to make whatever this "thing" is, why not just modify the genetics to fix whatever protien regulation problem you have? They seem to be talking about theraputic uses, not GM stuff (unless you are thinking of some sort of super soldier/athelete).

Re:tumours grown under the skin? (1)

auntieNeo (1605623) | more than 2 years ago | (#39894161)

Sounds like a quote from Portal 2...

"For this next test, we put nanoparticles in the gel. In layman's terms, that's a billion little gizmos that are gonna travel into your bloodstream and pump experimental genes and RNA molecules and so forth into your tumors. Now, maybe you don't have any tumors. Well, don't worry. If you sat on a folding chair in the lobby and weren't wearing lead underpants, we took care of that too." --Cave Johnson

Re:tumours grown under the skin? (1)

Savantissimo (893682) | more than 2 years ago | (#39896661)

And radio waves alone can affect gene expression, no nanoparticles needed: Mammalian Stem Cells Reprogramming in Response to Terahertz Radiation [plosone.org]

We report that extended exposure to broad-spectrum terahertz radiation results in specific changes in cellular functions that are closely related to DNA-directed gene transcription. Our gene chip survey of gene expression shows that whereas 89% of the protein coding genes in mouse stem cells do not respond to the applied terahertz radiation, certain genes are activated, while other are repressed. RT-PCR experiments with selected gene probes corresponding to transcripts in the three groups of genes detail the gene specific effect. The response was not only gene specific but also irradiation conditions dependent. Our findings suggest that the applied terahertz irradiation accelerates cell differentiation toward adipose phenotype by activating the transcription factor peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPARG). Finally, our molecular dynamics computer simulations indicate that the local breathing dynamics of the PPARG promoter DNA coincides with the gene specific response to the THz radiation. We propose that THz radiation is a potential tool for cellular reprogramming.

Translation for the media: "Study Says Porno-Scanners Make You Fatter".

Poor Mice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39893277)

Wonder how many PITA nutjobs this bothers

My only concern (4, Interesting)

Grayhand (2610049) | more than 2 years ago | (#39893419)

Stem cells and engineered genes would give the potential for an outright cure. Methods like this seem to reek of ongoing treatment. Diabetes treatment is a multibillion dollar a year industry so I think the industry will view a cure as a bad thing. A treatment that requires regular maintenance would be more desirable. Honestly when have you heard of a cure for a cronic condition that didn't require regular drug treatment? Even transplants require anti-rejection drugs. I read about a method for getting rid of harmful bacteria that caused tooth decay over a decade ago but since then silence. The approach was sound and the early testing worked yet the procedure never got past testing. It involved reducing the harmful bacteria with antibiotics then replacing it with a harmless one. This actually occurs naturally in some people. Most don't realize we generally catch the bad bacteria from our mothers sharing food. If you haven't caught the bad bacteria by age five you generally get colonized with the harmless version. I've read about several methods for outright curing diabetes that sound like they should work but long before there's a cure available I'll bet there will be more effective "treatments". Just look at the number of pills most people over 60 take? They are turning us into high priced drug addicts.

Re:My only concern (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39893535)

Conspiracy theory much?

Re:My only concern (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39894735)

No, he's just being realistic. Get your head out of the sand.

Oh, not this again... (1)

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) | more than 2 years ago | (#39895179)

Honestly when have you heard of a cure for a cronic condition that didn't require regular drug treatment?

Well, gosh, I guess if you cure it, then it isn't chronic any more.

If your definition of "chronic" is "persisting over a long period without killing the patient", well, there are any number of long-term infections that can be cured by antibiotics, anti-fungals, or whatever.

If your definition of "chronic" is "not able to be cured by a single round of treatment", well, I can only congratulate you on your insight -- sure enough, conditions that can't be cured by a single round of treatment must instead be controlled by regular treatment.

If you mean to say "the multibillion-dollar medical industry suppresses cures in favor of ongoing treatments", please explain joint replacement (as opposed to the gold mine of physical therapy, pain-control medications, and assistive technologies).

Re:My only concern (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39896423)

And silence will fall on your comment too. I'm still waiting for the Star Trek economical utopia ...

Fighting cancer? (1)

Bam_Thwok (2625953) | more than 2 years ago | (#39894335)

Any biochem /.ers want to chime on the potential for this technique to trigger apoptosis in cancerous tissues (or any targeted tissues)?

Re:Fighting cancer? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39895755)

Any biochem /.ers want to chime on the potential for this technique to trigger apoptosis in cancerous tissues (or any targeted tissues)?

This has been under research now with the Kanzius project (http://www.kanziuscancerresearch.org/).

A Free Country ... (1)

foobsr (693224) | more than 2 years ago | (#39895177)

Somehow all this reminds me of a a line that I still remember from a a copy of MAD from some decades ago: "America is a free country, a Gee country, a rippedy-dippedy-dee country ..."

CC.

Chemtrails (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39896529)

Now you know why people are deeply angry about chemtrails and HAARP.
Enjoy being microwaved.

Re:Chemtrails (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39898185)

Yes, we've understood for some time why people are deeply angry about chemtrails and HAARP.

It's because people are very foolish, and easily deluded.

Don't you have some canned goods you should be rotating?

Awesome, only need to find the ancient gene now :) (1)

youn (1516637) | more than 2 years ago | (#39898699)

Then time for some awesome galactic exploration :)

Home Application (1)

sociocapitalist (2471722) | more than 2 years ago | (#39900775)

Anyone else thinking of remote control on demand customizable girlfriends?

WTH??? (1)

nagromlt (1058808) | more than 2 years ago | (#39915609)

I haven't been on here for a long time... I usually only used to comment on things about meds or if I thought something posted needed clarity... But when I saw this I had to jump on it. When an nanoparticle, (Fe(III)O for example) is coated with antibodies and binds to an ion channel for manipulation, I do not see how this relates (biochemically) to 'switching on' a gene... It has nothing to do with the genetic structure or the route of action of genes. An ion channel is already pre-determined by the genetic structure of a cell. The gene has nothing to do with the experiment... my god, is it true what they say about the status of science (understanding) in this country??? Thats basic Bio 101 shit, man!!!!!! This is just sad, sad, sad, and SAD.

Re:WTH??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39919041)

Hey, nagrom. This is your real-life buddy Ethanol-fueled. Yeah, this site is run by a bunch of fuckin' fascist, censorist bed-wetting poseurs who can't distinguish their heads from their asses. They actually banned my ass for good - can you believe that? And if you won't walk the line of circle-jerks, you too will be banned.

Let's go grab a couple of Stones at Winston's yeah? FUCK REGGAE!

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