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Researchers in Dr. Zhen Gu’s lab have developed “nano-cocoons” (see left) that offer targeted drug delivery against cancer cells. This innovative design utilizes DNA that tricks the cancer cell absorbing the cocoon before the cocoon unravels and unleashes anticancer drugs stored within. Because it is DNA-based, the r57 shell system is biocompatible and less toxic to patients than systems that use synthetic components.

The nano-cocoon is comprised of a single-strand of DNA that assembles into what looks like a ball of yarn. At its core, it contains an anti-cancer drug called DOX and a protein calledCocoon_Delivery DNase; the DNase is coated in a thin polymer that prevents it from slicing through the DNA cocoon. Once the cocoon has become absorbed into the cancer cell, the cancer cell’s acidic environment destroys the polymer sheath encapsulating the DNase. When it becomes freed, the DNase cuts through the cocoon and release a high dose of DOX into the cancer cell, killing it.

To read Matt Shipman’s article, please see NC State’s news page. Science Daily and UNC Healthcare have also re-published the story, and UNC School of Medicine’s weekly newsletter, VitalSigns also linked to the feature.

To read the whole paper, “Cocoon-Like Self-Degradable DNA Nanoclew for Anticancer Drug Delivery,” please see the October 13th issue of the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

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