UNC researchers craft siRNA platform that can switch its solubility

Many would-be blockbusters are discarded on the lab floor because they can't be made water-soluble, but, for some treatments, insolubility is a necessity. With those cases in mind, scientists at the University of North Carolina have come up with a drug carrier that holds together in the bloodstream and then dissolves once it reaches its target cells.

Treatments like siRNAs are highly charged, so scientists often coat them in proteins before sending them into the body. The problem, however, is that those proteins are water-soluble, so the treatment never gets to its target. Instead of using this method, UNC's team cross-linked the proteins with a disulfide-based compound. The compound holds the proteins together in the blood, but then dissolves once inside the target cell, allowing for pinpointed delivery.

As Chemical & Engineering News reports, the scientists tested the method on monkey kidney cells and found that the platform was successful and the RNA got to its target. If they can duplicate the results, the solubility-shifting technology could be applied to other treatments as well. In study results published in this month's Journal of the American Chemical Society, the team says everything from nucleic-acid based therapeutics to traditional drugs could benefit from the technology.

- read the CEN report
- check out the journal article (reg. req.)