Spherical Nucleic Acids: a revolutionary new class of therapeutics
Invented by Chad Mirkin, spherical nucleic acids (SNAs) are typically composed of a nanoparticle core and densely packed and highly oriented nucleic acid shell.
These nanostructures are capable of crossing biological barriers to deliver therapeutics or stimulate an immune response.
This makes SNAs uniquely effective in areas like dermatology, where they can be actively taken up by the skin to target disease-causing genes, and in vaccine design, where they can be used to train cells to fight cancer.
Targeting cancer with gold nanostars
Targeted drug-delivery systems hold significant promise for treating cancer effectively by sparing healthy surrounding tissues. But the promising approach can only work if the drug hits its target.
IIN researchers have developed a new way to determine whether or not single drug-delivery nanoparticles will successfully hit their intended targets. By studying drug-loaded gold nanostars on cancer cell membranes, the researchers found that nanostars designed to target cancer biomarkers transited over larger areas and rotated much faster than their non-targeting counterparts.
By delivering drugs directly into the diseased area — instead of blasting the whole body with treatment — targeted delivery systems result in fewer side effects than current treatment methods.