Biomaterials

Viral Envelopes Built Better

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Science  16 May 2014:
Vol. 344, Issue 6185, pp. 673
DOI: 10.1126/science.344.6185.673-c
CREDIT: S. D. PERRAULT ET AL., ACS NANO (2 APRIL 2014) © 2014 ACS

Drawing inspiration from virus structure has the potential to make nanoparticles more stable and better at hiding from the immune system which might help researchers expand the uses of nanoparticles in the clinic. Nanotechnology can enhance drug targeting and improve the engineering of nanoscale medical devices. Perrault and Shih mimicked the strategy viruses use to protect their genetic information. They fabricated a DNA cage structure in the form of a nanooctahedron with a diameter of 50 nm. The structure had “handles” made from single-stranded DNA on the inside and outside of the cage. The inner set of handles was designed to attach to fluorophore-conjugated oligonucleotides, providing a visible marker for the structure. The outer set of handles was designed to attach to lipid-conjugated oligonucleotides, so that the researchers could then assemble a lipid bilayer around the DNA cage. The resulting particles were 76 nm in diameter and resembled enveloped virus structures. The particles were more resistant to nucleases in vitro and caused immune cells isolated from mouse spleens to produce much lower levels of the inflammatory cytokines IL-6 and IL-12. The particles also stayed in the bodies of injected mice for longer times than unencapsulated DNA cages.

ACS Nano. 10.1021/nn5011914 (2014).

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