Target Practice: Improving Gene Therapy With Nanotechnology


This image, captured by Omar Khan and Edmond Zaia, shows nanoparticles delivering siRNA to the cytoplasm of cervical tumor cells.


Omar F. Khan, Edmond W. Zaia
Langer and Anderson Laboratories
MIT Koch Institute

How can we turn off the genes that promote the development of cancer? Using specially designed nanoparticles as genetic patches, engineers can deliver customized payloads to a cell’s gel-like cytoplasm, where most cellular activity occurs, and mitigate the effects of cancer-causing genes in the cell’s nucleus.

This image shows nanoparticles (red) in the cytoplasm of cervical tumor cells (green). As researchers learn more about how cells respond to these therapies, they will continue to tweak the patches to determine which distributions of synthetic and genetic material can best target different types of cancer.


Omar Khan offers further insight into the science, technology, and inspiration behind his award-winnng image.

You can also watch his presentation from the exhibition opening event here.