Penetrating the Blood–Brain Barrier by Self-Assembled 3D DNA Nanocages as Drug Delivery Vehicles for Brain Cancer Therapy

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)28928−28940
Journal / PublicationACS applied materials & interfaces
Issue number26
Online published20 May 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2020


The development of biocompatible drug delivery vehicles for cancer therapy in the brain remains a big challenge. In this study, we designed self-assembled DNA nanocages functionalized with or without blood−brain barrier (BBB)-targeting ligands, d and we investigated their penetration across the BBB. Our DNA nanocages were not cytotoxic and they were substantially taken up in brain capillary endothelial cells and Uppsala 87 malignant glioma (U-87 MG) cells. We found that ligand modification is not essential for this DNA system as the ligand-free DNA nanocages (LF-NCs) could still cross the BBB by endocytosis inin vitro and in vivo models. Our spherical DNA nanocages were more permeable across the BBB compared with tubular DNA nanotubes. Remarkably, in vivo studies revealed that DNA nanocages could carry anticancer drugs across the BBB and inhibit the tumor growth in a U-87 MG xenograft mouse model. This is the first example showing the potential of DNA nanocages as innovative delivery vehicles to the brain for cancer therapy. Unlike other delivery systems, our work suggest that a DNA nanocage-based platform provides a safe and cost-effective tool for targeted delivery to the brain and therapy for brain tumors.

Research Area(s)

  • DNA nanocarriers, blood−brain barrier, drug delivery, glioblastoma, brain cancer therapy

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