Ultrasound (US) targeted microbubble (MB) destruction (UTMD) has been shown to be an effective method in delivering drugs and plasmid DNA (pDNA) into cells. We previously reported successful gene transfection of a reporter luciferase gene, pGL4, into livers of mice and rats using UTMD. The challenge is to translate and achieve similar gene expression in large animals, like swine, where the treated tissue volume is substantially larger. The scale-up study requires proportionally increased amount of pDNA/MBs delivered to tissues and an equivalent increase in US energy. We use different MBs and surgical strategies to retain most of pDNA/MB locally during US application in order to maximize the effect of UTMD in gene transfection. Our results show significant increase in luciferase expression in swine injected with MBs and exposed to 2.7 MPa US. We obtained up to 1800-fold enhancement in the pig experiment using Definity® MBs, and 2000-fold and 6300-fold enhancement in two pig studies using RN18 MBs compared to sham. These results represent an important developmental step towards US mediated gene delivery in large animals and clinical trials.
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