DNA nanodevices have been given the go-ahead for medical use

DNA nanodevices have been given the go-ahead for medical use

Experiments on mice show that nanodevices are not harmful in high doses.

Using DNA origami, which involves folding complementary strands of DNA into double helices, scientists can create small devices with intricate structures that can be injected into the body to deliver drugs or perform other tasks.Advances in nanotechnology have made it possible to create DNA structures for use in biomedical applications such as vaccines or drug delivery systems, but a recent study in mice examined the safety of the technology. Using a method called DNA origami (DO), which involves folding the complementary strands of DNA multiple times into a double helix, scientists can build a variety of small, complex devices that can be implanted into the body and used to deliver drugs or perform other tasks. However, since this technology is still in its infancy, experts are divided on whether nanostructures can cause dangerous immune responses or otherwise be toxic in animal organisms. Ohio State University researchers have now taken the first step to answer this question. Research recently published in the journal Small discovered that while these DNA tools can have some effect on the immune system in large amounts, it’s not pronounced enough to be harmful. Their results also suggest that different forms may be more useful for some medical applications. “DNA is incredibly well structured, and it’s amazing how it can be modified and redesigned to make highly coordinated nanorobots,” said Christopher Lucas, the study’s lead author and a researcher in Ohio State’s School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. “We believe that this technology, which has incredible potential, can be used to diagnose, treat and prevent disease.” To test whether this could be done safely, Lucas’ team used mice to compare the biodistribution and toxicity of two different nanostructures: a flat, single-layered 2D triangle called “Tri” and a 3D rod-shaped structure called nicknamed “The Horse”. For ten days, approximately 60 female mice were continuously injected intravenously with both DO structures. But in order to really test its safety, the researchers injected it into the mice at a concentration ten times higher than in previous tests. The researchers did see that Tri and Ló induced shape-dependent inflammatory responses, but because the response decreased over time, they showed that the immune response was relatively harmless in the long term. “It was a modest immune response, but it was not toxic to the animals,” Lucas said. “Understanding this has been really key as we move towards preclinical development and prepare the technology for drug delivery applications.” At the end of the experiment, the team also collected and imaged all the mice’s major organs, blood and urine to track the final distribution of the device in their bodies. The results showed that both types of nanostructures were internalized by different immune cells, only the amount of residual DO differed from the original concentration depending on how long it was on the body. Because they are biocompatible, the nanostructures happen to be cleared from the body relatively quickly, Lucas said. And that’s a good thing, especially if scientists want to ensure that these tools only target diseased cells.However, it is difficult to predict what challenges other types of nanostructures may encounter in the human or animal body.”Once we put something into a biological system, we have to take into account a lot of variables,” said Carlos Castro, co-author of the study, professor of the Faculty of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. As for next steps, since the technology has been shown to be non-toxic to mice, the team wants to load the devices with chemotherapy drugs and begin learning how to effectively target cancer cells in animals. “We’re just scratching the surface,” Castro said. “We uncover a whole series of interesting questions that we can delve deeper into.”Hardware, software, tests, interesting and colorful news from the world of IT by clicking here!

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