As part of gene research, an essential process known as transfection is used to introduce biomaterials, such as DNA or RNA, into a cell. This powerful technique allows scientists to investigate these biomaterials for therapeutic or research purposes with widespread benefits, helping to unravel the complexities of genetic disease disorders that can lead to life science breakthroughs.
Traditional transfection methods include both chemical and physical techniques which can have disadvantages such as low transfection efficiency and poor cell viability. Magnet assisted transfection, however, offers many advantages. Also known as Magnetofection™, this method involves binding DNA or RNA to biodegradable iron oxide magnetic nanoparticles which are together drawn into cells using a magnetic force. At the forefront of this technology, UK based nanoTherics Limited, have pioneered this non-invasive process further with proven speed and efficiency benefits using magnet arrays that oscillate beneath the cells to be transfected.
Motion technology specialists LG Motion Limited has worked closely with nanoTherics since 2007 helping nanoTherics to develop the enabling oscillation stage of its technology for its magnefect-nano™ and magnefect-LT transfection devices using a technology process, patented by nanoTherics, that applies the proprietary oscillating magnet arrays in combination with specially prepared magnetic nanoparticles.
Initially LG Motion supplied standard motorised positioning stage and motion controls to nanoTherics for research studies to evaluate and develop its oscillation principle. As the project developed from a research base to a commercial venture, the design of the oscillating magnet array was progressively optimised for both price and performance to ensure that nanoTherics stringent requirements for operational life and high reliability could be guaranteed with competitive cost for the portable, bench top devices which has culminated in the commercialisation of the magnefect-nano and the recent launch of the magnefect-LT.
The precise oscillation profile is now delivered using a small microstepping motor and leadscrew system with a carriage plate supported in a linear bearing, much the same as a traditional linear positioning stage but with strategically modified mechanics. The combined development project also allowed LG Motion to include the design and manufacture of other mechanical hardware components including the base frame and interchangeable well plate arrays that are used for holding samples.
The optimisation process also included the supply of a packaged stepping drive with a modified control that includes only the features required for the application which further reduced costs. The stepping drive is interfaced to a PC using a GUI developed by nanoTherics or, for the entry level magnefect-LT version, via simple keypad with a 4 line alphanumeric display. For all systems programming is straightforward with flexibility for different cell types and uncomplicated user-defined protocols that allow quick and easy transfection conditions to be selected. The operator simply defines the essential parameters of oscillation frequency, displacement, the number of cycles and cycle time.
The nanoTherics nanomagnetic transfection method is also completely scalable and LG Motion has worked on special larger oscillation stages for high throughput screening.