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Method For Effiecient Delivery Of Proteins Into Cells

The National Cancer Institute's Protein Expression Laboratory is seeking statements of capability or interest from parties interested in collaborative research to further develop, evaluate, or commercialize methods for delivery of proteins using virus-like particles.

Proteins are critical to all biological manifestations from normal cell behavior to diseases including cancer.  A convenient method to deliver proteins into cells would have wide ranging applications in cell biology including gene therapy and targeted killing of tumors. Current methods to deliver proteins include retrovirus, DNA transfection, protein transduction, microinjection, complexing the protein with lipids, etc.  These methods are time and labor intensive, unsafe, inefficient, and can be toxic to cells.  Protein transduction is an emerging technology for delivering proteins into cells that exploits the ability of certain proteins to penetrate the cell membrane.  This technology has yet to become commonplace in biology because the majority of proteins remain trapped in the endosome of recipient cells. 

This invention describes methods of delivering proteins into cells using virus-like particles (VLPs). VLPs consist of viral structural proteins that are capable of self-assembly into a nanoparticle, but are non-infectious because they lack viral nucleic acids.  The present technology discloses a chimeric VLP that can be used to deliver functional fusion proteins or fully-processed proteins into target cells.  By utilizing highly effective viral machinery, the problem of endosomal entrapment is eliminated and proteins can be delivered to target cells far more efficiently than existing protein transduction methods.  In addition to protein therapy that can be used to treat numerous diseases and disorders, this technology can also be used for expansion of stem cells for transplantation as well as for the development of cancer vaccines.    

Further R&D Needed:

  • Study the effect in vivo by injecting VLPs into mice
R&D Status: Pre-clinical

IP Status:
  • U.S. Patent Application No. 61/195,084 filed 03 Oct 2008
Value Proposition:
  • Ability to deliver proteins into target cells easier, cheaper, and with less toxicity than existing methods  
  • More efficient than other protein transduction methods because proteins do not remain trapped in the endosome
  • Numerous potential applications, including targeted killing of tumors, gene therapy, stem cell transplantation, and cancer vaccine development
Contact Information:
John D. Hewes, Ph.D.
NCI Technology Transfer Center
Tel: 301-435-3121
Email: hewesj@mail.nih.gov

Please reference advertisement #811

Revised 1/29/2009

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Page Last Updated: 12-17-2008