Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed a new nanodevice to block the gene that confers drug resistance and deliver a sustained release of drugs. This research is described in a new article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Gold nanoparticles coated with DNA complementary to the sequence of multidrug resistant protein 1 (MRP1) messenger RNA were embedded into a hydrogel that can be injected or implanted at a tumor site. The DNA strands form a closed hairpin structure that unfolds and binds to the mRNA inside the cancer cell, preventing it from generating more molecules of the MRP1 protein. Molecules of the drug 5-fluorouracil are also released to attack the tumor cell’s DNA. The device was tested in mice implanted with a triple negative breast cancer tumor; the device blocked the gene for MRP1 and delivered 5-fluorouracil continuously over two weeks. The tumors shrunk by 90% over this time frame.

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The researchers state that that the nanodevice could be adapted to delivery any kind of drug or gene therapy targeted to a specific gene involved in cancer. A study is underway to block a gene that stimulates gastric tumors to metastasize to the lungs.

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