New study shows promise in using RNA nanotechnology to treat cancers and viral infections

Sep 04, 2012
The University of Kentucky's Peixuan Guo is considered one of the top three nanobiotechnology experts in the world. Credit: UK HealthCare

A new study by University of Kentucky researchers shows promise for developing ultrastable RNA nanoparticles that may help treat cancer and viral infections by regulating cell function and binding to cancers without harming surrounding tissue.

The study, published in Nano Today, was carried out in the laboratory of Peixuan Guo, the William S. Farish Endowed Chair in Nanobiotechnology at the UK Markey Cancer Center, in collaboration with Dr. Mark Evers, director of the UK Markey Cancer Center.

The study uses RNA (ribonucleic acid) as a building block for the bottom-up fabrication of nanostructures. Using the RNA nanotechnology pioneered by Guo, the researchers constructed ultrastable X-shaped RNA using re-engineered RNA fragments to carry up to four therapeutic and diagnostic modules. Their RNA nanoparticles can include for silencing genes, micro-RNA for regulating gene expression, aptamer for targeting , or a that can catalyze chemical reactions.

The study demonstrated that regulation of progressively increased with the increasing number of functional modules in the nanoparticle.

"RNA nanotechnology is an emerging field, but the instability and degradation of RNA nanoparticles have made many scientists flinch away from the research in RNA nanotechnology," Guo said. "We have addressed these issues, and now it is possible to produce RNA nanoparticles that are highly stable both chemically and thermodynamically in the test tube or in the body with great potential as therapeutic reagents."

The RNA nanoparticles displayed several favorable attributes: polyvalent nature, which allows simultaneous delivery of multiple for achieving synergistic effects; modular design, which enables controlled self-assembly with defined structure; thermodynamically stable, which keeps the RNA nanoparticles intact in animal and human circulation systems, where they exist at very low concentrations; and chemically stable, which makes the nanoparticles resistant to RNase (an enzyme, which cleaves RNA) digestion in the blood serum.

"A major problem with cancer treatments is the ability to more directly and specifically deliver anti-cancer drugs to cancer metastases," Evers said. "Using the nanotechnology approach that Peixuan Guo and his group have devised may allow us to more effectively treat cancer metastasis with fewer side effects compared to current chemotherapy."

Explore further: Сalculations with nanoscale smart particles

Related Stories

Team finds stable RNA nano-scaffold within virus core

Sep 12, 2011

With the discovery of a RNA nano-scaffold that remains unusually stable in the body, researchers at the University of Cincinnati (UC) have overcome another barrier to the development of therapeutic RNA nanotechnology.

Modified RNA creates stable therapeutic nanoparticles

Feb 23, 2011

For years, RNA has seemed an elusive tool in nanotechnology research. While easily manipulated in the laboratory, RNA is susceptible to quick destruction in the body when confronted with a commonly found enzyme. "The enzyme ...

Purdue scientists treat cancer with RNA nanotechnology

Sep 14, 2005

Using strands of genetic material, Purdue University scientists have constructed tiny delivery vehicles that can carry anticancer therapeutic agents directly to infected cells, offering a potential wealth of ...

Recommended for you

Relaxing DNA strands by using nano-channels

1 hour ago

A simple and effective way of unravelling the often tangled mass of DNA is to 'thread' the strand into a nano-channel. A study carried out with the participation of the International School for Advanced Studies ...

Сalculations with nanoscale smart particles

Aug 19, 2014

Researchers from the Institute of General Physics of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry of the Russian Academy of Sciences and MIPT have made an important step towards ...

Attack Ebola on a nanoscale

Aug 15, 2014

(Phys.org) —The Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa has claimed more than 900 lives since February and has infected thousands more. Countries such as Nigeria and Liberia have declared health emergencies, ...

User comments : 0