Nano DNA system may deliver medicines

March 22, 2010 at 4:56 PM
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MONTREAL, March 22 (UPI) -- Canadian scientists say they have achieved a DNA nanotechnology breakthrough that offers promising applications in medicine.

McGill University researchers led by Professor Hanadi Sleiman report development of nanotubes that could some day be used to deliver drugs to specific diseased cells.

The researchers said they created the first examples of DNA nanotubes that encapsulate and load cargo, and then release it rapidly and completely when a specific external DNA strand is added. Until now, DNA nanotubes could only be constructed by rolling a two-dimensional sheet of DNA into a cylinder. Sleiman's method allows nanotubes of any shape to be formed and they can either be closed to hold materials or porous to release them. That, the scientists said, means materials such as drugs could be released when a particular molecule is encountered.

"We are still far from being able to treat diseases using this technology," Sleiman said. "This is only a step in that direction. Researchers need to learn how to take these DNA nanostructures, such as the nanotubes here, and bring them back to biology to solve problems in nanomedicine, from drug delivery, to tissue engineering to sensors."

The team's discovery appears in the March 14 issue of the journal Nature Chemistry.

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