Selective killing of cells triggered by their mRNA signature in the presence of smart nanoparticles

A. Heuer-Jungemann, A. H. El-Sagheer, P. M. Lackie, T. Brown and A. G. Kanaras. Nanoscale 8, 16857-16861, 2016.


The design of nanoparticles that can selectively perform multiple roles is of utmost importance for the development of the next generation of nanoparticulate drug delivery systems. So far most research studies are focused on the customization of nanoparticulate carriers to maximize their drug loading, enhance their optical signature for tracking in cells or provide photo-responsive effects for therapeutic purposes. However, a vital requirement of the new generation of drug carriers must be the ability to deliver their payload selectively only to cells of interest rather than the majority of various cells in the vicinity. Here we show for the first time a new design of nanoparticulate drug carriers that can specifically distinguish different cell types based on their mRNA signature. These nanoparticles sense and efficiently kill model tumour cells by the delivery of an anti-cancer drug but retain their payload in cells lacking the specific mRNA target.