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Enhancing RNA interference

Helping RNA escape from cells’ recycling process could make it easier to shut off disease-causing genes.

Nanoparticles that deliver short strands of RNA offer a way to treat cancer and other diseases by shutting off malfunctioning genes. Although this approach has shown some promise, scientists are still not sure exactly what happens to the nanoparticles once they get inside their target cells.

A new study from MIT sheds light on the nanoparticles’ fate and suggests new ways to maximize delivery of the RNA strands they are carrying, known as short interfering RNA (siRNA).

“We’ve been able to develop nanoparticles that can deliver payloads into cells, but we didn’t really understand how they do it,” says Daniel Anderson, the Samuel Goldblith Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering at MIT. “Once you know how it works, there’s potential that you can tinker with the system and make it work better.”

Lipid nanoparticles (carrying siRNA) are shown as they are transported inside cells using endocytic vesicles.
Image: Daria Alakhova and Gaurav Sahay

Date: 
Tuesday, June 25, 2013