Dr. Xiaohu Gao, professor of bioengineering, and Eva Corey, in UW Medicine’s Department of Urology, have developed a new way to deliver cancer-killing genetic material to prostate tumors that overcomes past hurdles. Their work appears today in Nature Biomedical Engineering.

In this study, Dr. Gao and UW Bioengineering researchers Wanyi Tai and Junwei Li created a system that simultaneously meets all design requirements for delivering an agent to its targeted tumor. Their delivery capsule efficiently turned off the genes that support tumor growth, resulting in tumor cell death in mice. The biologic agent, short interference RNA (siRNA), is transported in a ribonucleoprotein octamer capsule.

Graphic of octamer

The eight-armed nanocarrier they designed carries enough of the siRNA payload to effectively kill the tumor; limits its positive surface charge so it reaches its target and doesn’t stick to unwanted cell types; allows for effective endosomal escape; and is biocompatible.

The fully assembled complex measures about 30 nanometers, which the researchers note, falls in an excellent size range for cell targeting and drug delivery in the body. The compact and uniform size is a result of molecular self-assembly.

Read the UW Medicine news article.