Nanoscale "cages" made from strands of DNA can encapsulate small-molecule drugs and release them in response to a specific stimulus, McGill University researchers report in a new study.
A DNA cage (at left), with lipid-like molecules (in blue). The lipids come together in a "handshake" within the cage (center image) to encapsulate small-molecule drugs (purple). The molecules are released (at right) in response to the presence of a specific nucleic acid.
Credit: Thomas Edwardson, McGill University
The research, published online Sept. 1 in Nature Chemistry, marks a step toward the use of biological nanostructures to deliver drugs to diseased cells in patients. The findings could also open up new possibilities for designing DNA-based nanomaterials.
"This research is important for drug delivery, but also for fundamental structural biology and nanotechnology," says McGill Chemistry professor Hanadi Sleiman, who led the research team.
DNA carries the genetic information of all living organisms from one generation to the next. But strands of the material can also be used to build nanometre-scale structures. (A nanometre is one billionth of a metre – roughly one-100,000th the diameter of a human hair.)
In their experiments, the McGill researchers first created DNA cubes using short DNA strands, and modified them with lipid-like molecules. The lipids can act like sticky patches that come together and engage in a "handshake" inside the DNA cube, creating a core that can hold cargo such as drug molecules.
The McGill researchers also found that when the sticky patches were placed on one of the outside faces of the DNA cubes, two cubes could attach together. This new mode of assembly has similarities to the way that proteins fold into their functional structures, Sleiman notes. "It opens up a range of new possibilities for designing DNA-based nanomaterials."
Sleiman's lab has previously demonstrated that gold nanoparticles can be loaded and released from DNA nanotubes, providing a preliminary proof of concept that drug delivery might be possible. But the new study marks the first time that small molecules -- which are considerably smaller than the gold nanoparticles -- have been manipulated in such a way using a DNA nanostructure, the researchers report.
DNA nanostructures have several potential advantages over the synthetic materials often used to deliver drugs within the body, says Thomas Edwardson, a McGill doctoral student and co-author of the new paper. "DNA structures can be built with great precision, they are biodegradable and their size, shape and properties can be easily tuned".
The DNA cages can be made to release drugs in the presence of a specific nucleic acid sequence. "Many diseased cells, such as cancer cells, overexpress certain genes," Edwardson adds. "In a future application, one can imagine a DNA cube that carries drug cargo to the diseased cell environment, which will trigger the release of the drug." The Sleiman group is now conducting cell and animal studies to assess the viability of this method on chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and prostate cancer, in collaboration with researchers at the Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research at Montreal's Jewish General Hospital.
Funding for the Sleiman team's research was provided by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), a CIHR Drug Development Training Program scholarship to Mr. Edwardson, the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), the Centre for Self- Assembled Chemical Structures (CSACS) and the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR).
Chris Chipello | EurekAlert!
Cells migrate collectively by intermittent bursts of activity
30.09.2016 | Aalto University
The structure of the BinAB toxin revealed: one small step for Man, a major problem for mosquitoes!
30.09.2016 | CNRS (Délégation Paris Michel-Ange)
Heavy construction machinery is the focus of Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s latest advance in additive manufacturing research. With industry partners and university students, ORNL researchers are designing and producing the world’s first 3D printed excavator, a prototype that will leverage large-scale AM technologies and explore the feasibility of printing with metal alloys.
Increasing the size and speed of metal-based 3D printing techniques, using low-cost alloys like steel and aluminum, could create new industrial applications...
Friction stir welding is a still-young and thus often unfamiliar pressure welding process for joining flat components and semi-finished components made of light metals.
Scientists at the University of Stuttgart have now developed two new process variants that will considerably expand the areas of application for friction stir welding.
Technologie-Lizenz-Büro (TLB) GmbH supports the University of Stuttgart in patenting and marketing its innovations.
Friction stir welding is a still-young and thus often unfamiliar pressure welding process for joining flat components and semi-finished components made of...
Optical quantum computers can revolutionize computer technology. A team of researchers led by scientists from Münster University and KIT now succeeded in putting a quantum optical experimental set-up onto a chip. In doing so, they have met one of the requirements for making it possible to use photonic circuits for optical quantum computers.
Optical quantum computers are what people are pinning their hopes on for tomorrow’s computer technology – whether for tap-proof data encryption, ultrafast...
The Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP has been developing various applications for OLED microdisplays based on organic semiconductors. By integrating the capabilities of an image sensor directly into the microdisplay, eye movements can be recorded by the smart glasses and utilized for guidance and control functions, as one example. The new design will be debuted at Augmented World Expo Europe (AWE) in Berlin at Booth B25, October 18th – 19th.
“Augmented-reality” and “wearables” have become terms we encounter almost daily. Both can make daily life a little simpler and provide valuable assistance for...
With the help of artificial intelligence, chemists from the University of Basel in Switzerland have computed the characteristics of about two million crystals made up of four chemical elements. The researchers were able to identify 90 previously unknown thermodynamically stable crystals that can be regarded as new materials. They report on their findings in the scientific journal Physical Review Letters.
Elpasolite is a glassy, transparent, shiny and soft mineral with a cubic crystal structure. First discovered in El Paso County (Colorado, USA), it can also be...
30.09.2016 | Event News
29.09.2016 | Event News
28.09.2016 | Event News
30.09.2016 | Materials Sciences
30.09.2016 | Earth Sciences
30.09.2016 | Life Sciences