Special Delivery 1: Gene Therapy and Polymer Nanotechnology

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Submitted by Erik Dreaden of the Hammond Laboratory at the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT

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RNA-based gene therapies use short sequences of nucleic acids to silence growth- and survival-promoting proteins only in tumor cells. Unfortunately, conventional delivery vehicles for these exciting new drugs are toxic, limiting their effectiveness in the clinic. The Hammond lab uses polymer chemistry to engineer ‘plastic nanotechnologies’ that can deliver these drugs safely, effectively, and specifically to tumors cells. Here, we’re studying core-shell polymer nanostructures (red, green) that deliver RNA specifically to ovarian cancer cells (purple, blue).