Scientists from Ohio State University have developed a nano-sized drug transporter that has the ability to silence damaging genes by finding the equivalent of an expressway into a target cell. This transporter may help improve cancer treatments.
The transporter, called a nanocarrier, is a lipid-based structure containing a piece of RNA. Lipids are fatty molecules that help maintain the structure of cell membranes.
The RNA segment encased in the carrier sets off a process to silence genes, rendering the genes unable to produce proteins that lead to disease or other health problems.
Though the main component of the carrier resembles existing and previously studied transporters, Ohio State scientists have attached specific helper molecules to the carrier's surface that their research suggests can enhance the transporter's effectiveness.
"We have designed a different nanocarrier formulation and demonstrated that this formulation can affect the cellular entry pathway, which in turn affects how long the siRNA is exposed to the main body of the cell," said Chenguang Zhou, a graduate student in pharmaceutics at Ohio State and lead author of the study.
"More of that exposure equals better and longer gene silencing," he added.