In collaboration with Prof. Dabrowiak and led by graduate student Colleen Alexander, we are exploring a new class of nanoscale drugs, which we call encoded nanocarriers. The basis for this project is inspired by work done on determining the mechanism for toxicity of some classes of chemotherapy drugs. Some drugs, like doxorubicin (DOX) bind to DNA in the nucleus with a surprisingly specific intercalation mechanism. With this intercalation model in mind, we designed and constructed a DNA-capped gold nanoparticle with a DNA code that contains three of these high affinity sites as shown above. Since we can tailor the code (i.e. sequence), length, and number of dsDNA at each nanoparticle, we term these materials as encoded. Next, the drug, like DOX, is incubated with the dsDNA-nanoparticle construct, and the drug loads itself into the dsDNA structure via intercalation, thus becoming a carrier of the drug.
We recently showed the proof-of-concept of this approach in Chemical Communications. Recent results have leveraged the capabilities of the Syracuse Biomaterials Institute for further understanding and in-depth cytotoxicity studies, which will be reported soon.