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Research Abstracts Online
January 2010 - March 2011

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University of Minnesota Twin Cities
College of Science and Engineering
Department of Biomedical Engineering

PI: Chun Wang

Simulation of Binding Between Cationic Polymers and DNA

There are many reasons why understanding the binding between cationic polymers and DNA is important. When cationic polymers are designed to be carriers for DNA in gene therapy, the polymers and DNA form polyelectrolyte complexes in aqueous media, often collapsing DNA into electrically neutral, compact nanoparticles. Researchers have shown that cationic polymers with subtle differences in chemical structure result in drastically different DNA binding and gene transfer efficiency, despite the fact that they all form nanoscale particles. It has been hypothesized that the gene transfer efficiency of polymer/DNA complexes is related, at least in part, to the process of polymer/DNA binding and condensation, and to the final structure and conformation of these molecules in the nanoparticles. These researchers have synthesized a series of new cationic polymers in their laboratory with different gene transfer capacities. In this project, they are creating molecular models of these polymers and simulating the binding and complexation process of these polymers with DNA. Results from this study should help the researchers design better polymer carriers for gene therapy applications.

Group Member

Yiqing (Emily) Chen, Undergraduate Student