A biocompatible nanomaterial that can be controlled with light finds a use in gene delivery.
A tiny therapeutic delivery system that can control the body’s ability to manufacture proteins has been developed by Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) researchers .
Genes contain the instructions for manufacturing the proteins that make up our body. Genetic information is translated into the proteins needed to build living cells through a transcription process in which DNA’s genetic code is copied into a large molecule known as messenger RNA (mRNA).
This transcription process can be altered by introducing short double-strands of RNA, referred to as small interfering RNA (siRNA), which binds to the mRNA and inhibits the expression of particular genes. Harnessing this RNA interference for therapeutic applications is difficult and requires a material that can protect the siRNA as it travels through the bloodstream, helping it to penetrate the cell’s outer membrane and deliver it to its target location.
“Delivery of RNA is very tricky as it can be readily digested by cells. Better vehicles are needed so more RNA can be delivered in order to edit genes,” says Niveen Khashab from the KAUST Smart Hybrid Materials Laboratory.
Khashab and her colleagues have now demonstrated biocompatible nanostructures for delivering siRNA and efficiently silencing genes1. They combined the macromolecule histidine-capped-9,10-dialkoxy-anthracene (HDA) and siRNA in water. They observed the self-assembly of spherical nanoparticles when the water was slightly acidic, but not when it was pH neutral.
Khashab explains that these nanospheres are created by the electrostatic interaction between the positively charged HDA and negatively charged RNA, and then the two long arms of the HDA supramolecular wrap around the siRNA to protect it.
“Our organic linker is able to interact with genetic materials by hydrogen bonds and form a delivery vehicle,” explains Khashab. “The approach is scalable and creates reproducible amounts of encapsulated RNA; it is also biocompatible and safe.”
The nanoparticles could also be activated with visible light. When irradiated by green radiation while in the presence of an acidic fluorescent compound, known as eosin, the sphere disassembles and releases the siRNA.
The team showed the effectiveness of the nanoparticle for drug delivery on B-cell lymphoma 2, an mRNA molecule that creates proteins for regulating cell death. They showed that their nanostructures enhance the gene-silencing efficacy and led to gene knockdown of more than 90 percent after exposure to visible-light.
“The next step is to tweak the design to deliver other cargo molecules such as protein and improve the light response to higher wavelength in the near infrared,” says Khashab.
 Patil, S. P., Moosa, B. A., Alsaiari, S., Alamoudi, K., Alshamsan, A., et al. Supramolecular self-assembly of histidine-capped-dialkoxy-anthracene: A visible-light-triggered platform for facile siRNA delivery. Chemistry - A European Journal advance online publication, 28 July 2016 (doi: 10.1002/chem.201601442)
Michelle D'Antoni | Research SEA
Could this protein protect people against coronary artery disease?
17.11.2017 | University of North Carolina Health Care
Microbial resident enables beetles to feed on a leafy diet
17.11.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für chemische Ökologie
The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.
Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...
Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.
That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...
Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.
During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....
The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.
Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...
Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...
15.11.2017 | Event News
15.11.2017 | Event News
30.10.2017 | Event News
17.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
17.11.2017 | Health and Medicine
17.11.2017 | Studies and Analyses