Cancer immuno-gene therapy is an introduction of nucleic acids encoding immunostimulatory proteins, such as cytokine interleukin 12 (IL-12), into somatic cells to stimulate an immune response against a tumor. Various methods can be used for the introduction of nucleic acids into cells; magnetofection involves binding of nucleic acids to magnetic nanoparticles with subsequent exposure to an external magnetic field. Here we show that surface modified superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPIONs) with a combination of polyacrylic acid (PAA) and polyethylenimine (PEI) (SPIONs-PAA-PEI) proved to be safe and effective for magnetofection of cells and tumors in mice. Magnetofection of cells with plasmid DNA encoding reporter gene using SPIONs-PAA-PEI was superior in transfection efficiency to commercially available SPIONs. Magnetofection of murine mammary adenocarcinoma with plasmid DNA encoding IL-12 using SPIONs-PAA-PEI resulted in significant antitumor effect and could be further refined for cancer immuno-gene therapy.
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