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February 26th, 2007
Short pieces of RNA, known as small interfering RNA (siRNA), have the potential to become a new class of anticancer drugs if researchers can solve the problem of how to deliver these fragile molecules to cancer cells (click here for more information). One possible solution, identified by investigators at Stanford University's Center for Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence Focused on Therapy Response, is to use carbon nanotubes to transport siRNA agents through the bloodstream and into cells.
Carbon nanotubes are adept at passing through the cell membrane, and Hongjie Dai, Ph.D., and his colleagues used that property to deliver siRNA molecules into human cells. Starting with commercially available single-walled carbon nanotubes, the investigators made the nanotubes water soluble by coating them with the biocompatible polymer poly(ethylene glycol), or PEG. They then attached siRNA molecules to the PEG coating using a mild chemical reaction to link the therapeutic agent to the PEG molecules.
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