Precision medicine: new nano-transporters engineered by Sapienza to target and eliminate cancer cells

A group of researchers from Sapienza University of Rome has developed a new hybrid nanoparticle capable of effectively and selectively delivering antitumor drugs. The results of the study, which could be used to treat different types of cancer, have been published in the Journal of Nanobiotechnology

The new therapeutic tools in the fight against cancer, which exploit the potential of nanotechnology, are based on the targeted delivery of small fragments of RNA, the so-called microRNAs, into cancer cells. Although these molecules have excellent potential for cancer treatment, it is necessary to selectively target them to neoplastic cells to ensure their effectiveness.

In an all-Italian study, researchers from the Department of Biochemical Sciences "A. Rossi Fanelli", Depatment of Anatomical Histological, Medical-Legal Sciences and Locomotor Apparatus and Department of Chemistry and Technology of Drugs at Sapienza University have developed a new system in the laboratory for the targeted release of chemotherapy drugs that uses specific molecules, amine dendrimers, which act as a sort of sponge for small RNAs

These polymers are widely studied for their 'magnetic' ability to bind nucleic acids. However, their intrinsic toxicity and lack of selectivity for specific cell types have always limited their use.

In the study published in the Journal of Nanobiotechnology, the researchers encapsulated the dendrimers into a nanoparticle of bacterial ferritin, engineered to recognize the human transferrin receptor, which is particularly abundant on the surface of many cancer cells such as the acute promyelocytic leukaemia cells used to achieve the results of this work.

"Given these features," says Alberto Boffi at the Department of Biochemical Sciences and coordinator of this study, "the hybrid nanoparticle made it possible to successfully transfer a microRNA into diseased cells in a targeted and effective way".

The advantage of this new nano-vehicle lies in its unique ability to self-assemble and selectively target different types of cancer cells by releasing the microRNA into the cytoplasm.

"These nanoparticles", concludes Boffi, "are highly versatile and could be used in the future to deliver small RNAs and other therapeutic molecules, even in a combined way".




Self-Assembling Ferritin-Dendrimer Nanoparticles for Targeted Delivery of Nucleic Acids to Myeloid Leukemia Cells - Federica Palombarini, Silvia Masciarelli, Alessio Incocciati, Francesca Liccardo, Elisa Di Fabio, Antonia Iazzetti, Giancarlo Fabrizi, Francesco Fazi, Alberto Macone, Alessandra Bonamore, Alberto Boffi - Journal of Nanobiotechnology DOI:10.21203/


Further Information:

Alberto Boffi 
Department of Biochemical Sciences "A. Rossi Fanelli"

Alberto Macone
Department of Biochemical Sciences "A. Rossi Fanelli"

Alessandra Bonamore
Department of Biochemical Sciences "A. Rossi Fanelli"

Francesco Fazi
Department of Anatomical Histological, Medical-Legal Sciences and Locomotor Apparatus


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Friday, 09 July 2021

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