Self-Assembled, Aptamer-Tethered Dna Nanotrains for Targeted Transport of Molecular Drugs in Cancer Theranostics Academic Article uri icon


  • Nanotechnology has allowed the construction of various nanostructures for applications, including biomedicine. However, a simple target-specific, economical, and biocompatible drug delivery platform with high maximum tolerated doses is still in demand. Here, we report aptamer-tethered DNA nanotrains (aptNTrs) as carriers for targeted drug transport in cancer therapy. Long aptNTrs were self-assembled from only two short DNA upon initiation by modified aptamers, which worked like locomotives guiding nanotrains toward target cancer cells. Meanwhile, tandem "boxcars" served as carriers with high payload capacity of drugs that were transported to target cells and induced selective cytotoxicity. aptNTrs enhanced maximum tolerated dose in nontarget cells. Potent antitumor efficacy and reduced side effects of drugs delivered by biocompatible aptNTrs were demonstrated in a mouse xenograft tumor model. Moreover, fluorophores on nanotrains and drug fluorescence dequenching upon release allowed intracellular signaling of nanotrains and drugs. These results make aptNTrs a promising targeted drug transport platform for cancer theranostics.

publication date

  • 2013-05-01