A new joint study elaborated by researchers from the Aalto University and the University of Jyvaskyla showcases the potential of using nanostructures to deliver drugs. The researchers constructed a custom DNA nanostructure which can complete a predefined task in a medium which mimics the conditions encountered in the human body. This designer carrier can respond to the pH level of the surrounding area, and it can open or remain closed according to the set of pre-loaded instructions. The payload capacity is quite flexible, and the delivery can be fine-tuned by influencing the pH level.
The functionality was inspired by DNA residues which react to various pH levels. In a way, the capsule can be perceived by a DNA origami structure which also features pH-sensible DNA strands. In most cases, dynamic DNA structures can be controlled with the help of hydrogen-bonding.
The team decided to use a similar pattern. One half was fitted with special double-stranded DNA domains which were able to form a triple helix structure by attaching a third single-strand DNA domain which was present in the other half.
Researchers Created a New Drug Delivery Method Based on Custom DNA Nanostructure
This union is conditioned by the surrounding pH level, which means that it can remain closed for a long period without deteriorating. It can be easily opened by a slight pH increase, and the opening mechanism is similar to that of latches. Initial tests proved that these nanocapsules could safely transport enzymes and gold nanoparticles. The loading, encapsulation and exposure processes occurred without problems, and the team observed that the cargo was kept intact.
It is anticipated that this type of drug carrier could be customized for use across a rich selection of diseases, including cancer as cancer cells feature a different pH in comparison to normal ones they could be used for targeted treatments. The data collected during the study has the potential to herald new treatment which can advance nanomedicine. The study was published in a peer-reviewed journal.