Medical researchers think specially tailored RNA sequences could turn off genes in patients’ cells to encourage wound healing or to kill tumor cells. Now researchers have developed a nanocoating for bandages that could deliver these fragile gene-silencing RNAs right where they’re needed (ACS Nano 2013, DOI: 10.1021/nn401011n). The team hopes to produce a bandage that shuts down genes standing in the way of healing in chronic wounds.
Small RNAs of various forms are being found is a lot of interesting places. In many cases, they bind to a messenger RNA (mRNA) that codes for an important protein. This renders that mRNA useless and it is degraded, reducing the amount of material that can be used to produce the protein.
Enough of this silencing RNA (siRNA) and production of a protein can be tremendously reduced. It is known as a knock-down effect.
This process has been known for many years. The difficulty has been getting the siRNA into the right cells at the right time to have a needed effect.
The paper – Nanolayered siRNA Dressing for Sustained Localized Knockdown – demonstrates one possible approach. Mixing the siRNAs with small nanoparticles helps get them into the cells effectively.
Coating bandages in a film containing these nanoparticles provides a viable way to deliver these siRNAs.
The work has only been done on cultured cells, not on humans yet. But the researchers were able to shut down about 60-70% of the production of a test protein over a 7 day period.
This approach could be used for fixing bone, dealing with atherosclerotic plaques and possible even tumors.
Something to watch out for.