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Researchers use DNA strands to build decomposable nanostructures

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Posted January 28, 2014
Researchers use DNA strands to build decomposable nanostructures
DNA can mediate the assembly of nanoparticles and polymers into multifunctional superstructures and control their interactions with biological systems, potentially allowing for applications in cancer imaging and drug delivery while mitigating the risks of toxicity associated with engineered nanomaterials. Credit: Leo Chou, Kyryl Zagorovsky, Warren Chan
A team of researchers in Canada has found a way around the problem of large nanostructures that are used to combat tumors, remaining in the body after they are no longer needed. In their paper published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, the team describes a technique they developed where they used DNA strands to tie together small nanostructures creating larger nanostructures, that over time—after a tumor had been reduced—broke down and left the body.

Over the past several years, researchers have discovered that nanostructures, built from nanoparticles can be used to deliver drugs directly to a tumor, killing it. This is preferential to chemotherapy because it harms only tumor cells, rather than healthy cells throughout the body. The down side is that the nanostructures are made of materials that are considered toxic if they build up in the body and worse, are a little too big for the body to break down and get rid of. Thus, the nanostructures remain after they are no longer needed.

Read more at: Phys.org

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