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Acoustically Detonated Biomolecules for Genetically Encodable Inertial Cavitation

By Avinoam Bar-Zion, Atousa Nourmahnad, David R. Mittelstein, Sangjin Yoo, Dina Malounda, Mohamad Abedi, Audrey Lee-Gosselin, David Maresca, Mikhail G. Shapiro

Posted 29 Apr 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/620567

Recent advances in molecular engineering and synthetic biology have made it possible for biomolecular and cell-based therapies to provide highly specific disease treatment. However, both the ability to spatially target the action of such therapies, and their range of effects on the target tissue remain limited. Here we show that biomolecules and cells can be engineered to deliver potent mechanical effects at specific locations inside the body under the direction of focused ultrasound. This capability is based on gas vesicles, a unique class of air-filled protein nanostructures derived from buoyant photosynthetic microbes. We show that low-frequency ultrasound can convert these nanoscale biomolecules into micron-scale cavitating bubbles, as demonstrated with acoustic measurements and ultrafast optical microscopy. This allows gas vesicles targeted to cell-surface receptors to serve as remotely detonated cell-killing agents. In addition, it allows cells genetically engineered to express gas vesicles to be triggered with ultrasound to lyse and release therapeutic payloads. We demonstrate these capabilities in vitro, in cellulo, and in vivo. This technology equips biomolecular and cellular therapeutics with unique capabilities for spatiotemporal control and mechanical action.

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